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WSI-Mitteilungen

"WSI-Mitteilungen" is a scientific journal providing up-to-date information on the results of research on current issues of relevance to trade unions. It is aimed primarily at the academic and business communities, trade unionists and policymakers.

The journal is published in German language six times a year. For all articles, abstracts are available in English.

Issue 02/2019

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 87–95

Günther Schmid

Europe in work: A plea for new full employment through inclusive growth

Abstract

Prominent economists and social scientists consider the central cause for the current crisis in Europe to be the euro. The political and economic costs of giving up the euro, however, would be tremendous. The Euro, could, in fact, be the key issue for a project of “Social Europe”, if only the prevalent financial capitalism were to be countered by a realistic policy of new full employment through inclusive growth. This article provides concrete reform proposals in this direction, in particular related to non-standard forms of employment and the potential creation of a European employment insurance. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 96–105

Anke Hassel, Sophia von Verschuer

A European legal framework for workers’ voice in transnational companies

Abstract

Given the power of transnational corporations and the social impact of increasing globalisation, new forms of social embedding of companies are called for. Workers’ voice in the form of employee participation in strategic business decisions is an important tool for monitoring business decisions and is a key component of the European social model. However, it is currently underdeveloped and inadequate to meet current challenges. An important approach to strengthening employee participation is based on ensuring their functions in an institutionally diverse environment. Binding forms of worker participation must play an active role in formulating workers’ interests and in monitoring corporate behaviour. European law has a number of positive approaches to the anchoring of participation rights of employees such as the European Social Charter or the recent European Pillar of Social Rights. However, the European- level development of proposals for company law and decisions by the ECJ tend to undermine social standards. European solutions to these issues are the formulation of exceptions to the norms of the EU single market as well as new policy advances towards a more worker-friendly European company law. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 106–114

Hans-Wolfgang Platzer, Torsten Müller

The European trade union federations: the development of their power resources and roles

Abstract

The article examines how the power resources, tasks and policies of the European trade union federations (ETUFs) changed in the course of the financial crisis which started in 2007/2008. The analysis illustrates that neither of the two conceivable extreme scenarios have materialised: re-nationalisation trends did not block transnational trade union cooperation or erode the ETUFs’ capacity to act; nor did increased transnational solidarity requirements lead to intensified transnational cooperation under the umbrella of the ETUFs. What we can observe instead are only gradual changes occurring over time and varying by policy area; hence, compared to the pre-crisis period, the ETUFs’ current state can be characterised as status quo ante overall. The article, however, also shows that partially weakened national power resources and a trend towards an increased heterogeneity of national trade union interests have made the formulation of joint European strategies even more difficult today than in the past. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 115–124

Willi Koll, Andrew Watt

Convergence of wage development and macroeconomic policy for a stable Economic and Monetary Union

Abstract

National wage and price developments are decisive for domestic demand, competitiveness and the current account. Balanced growth in the Euro area requires that, not only in the aggregate but in each member state, inflation is commensurate with nominal unit labour cost developments and both variables with the inflation target of the European Central Bank. Yet some member states deviated, in both directions and persistently, from this “Golden Rule of wages and prices”. Tis led to a massive build-up of imbalances regarding domestic demand, current and capital accounts, whose tensions were only resolved via a deep economic and financial crisis. Wages and prices are both drivers of, and are driven by, macroeconomic developments. Thus both the social partners and fiscal and monetary policy makers bear responsibility for adhering to the Golden Rule. This requires cooperation between the macroeconomic policy actors which must be appropriately institutionalised. The authors present a reform proposal that would bring together representatives of monetary and fiscal policy and the social partners in a formal dialogue tasked with respecting the Golden Rule, tailoring their policies towards achieving it while maintaining their autonomy. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 125–132

Klaus Busch

Rightwing populisms in the EU – threats to the integration process

Abstract

There are mainly five variables which explain the growing power of right-wing populism in key EU member states (Italy, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany): economic problems (unemployment), social inequality, political instability, the European refugee crisis and a historical-cultural factor. Right-wing populism is responsible for increasing political instability in the member states and the EU. The growing renationalisation is an obstacle to overcoming difficulties in significant integration conflicts. At the moment there is no solution for the redistribution of refugees between EU member states and for the creation of a European fiscal budget to fight economic crises in the EU. In combination with Brexit and the weakening of democracy and the rule of law in key Eastern European member states, the process of integration is being endangered. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 133–141

Thorsten Schulten, Malte Lübker

WSI Minimum Wage Report 2019: The time has come for substantial wage gains and a European minimum wage policy

Abstract

Over the past few years, the potential of mini mum wages as an instrument towards safeguarding adequate living wages has been increasingly recognised in the political discourse. Against this backdrop, the WSI Minimum Wage Report 2019 tracks current developments in all 22 EU Member States that set a statutory mini mum wage, as well in 15 neighbouring countries in the EU and beyond. The report shows that the dynamic growth of minimum wages observed in the past extends into 2019, leading to a median increase of 4.8 per cent in the European Union. The trend is driven by further catch-up growth in Eastern Europe, and also by a substantial minimum wage adjustment in Spain. Averaging across the EU, minimum wages are now equivalent to just over 50 per cent of median wages. However, they still fall far short of the conventional low-pay threshold. A further increase is therefore one of the major objectives of a coordinated European minimum wage policy. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 142-145

Frank Gerlach, Astrid Ziegler

In favour of an offensive regional industrial policy by IG Metall – strategies and measures

Abstract

Regional industrial policy is facing major challenges. Digitalisation, demographic trends, increasing indications of climate change and the consequences of globalisation also demand a response at the regional level. As a contribution to a more intensive discussion and debate key points in strategy as well as the use of industrial-policy instruments at the regional level are cited. It is considered a necessity to switch from a reactive to an offensive employee-oriented regional and industrial policy. IG Metall can and must be a driving force here for the benefit of workers in order to safeguard industry in regions with a strong industrial base and foster re-industrialisation in weak regions in the future. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 146-147

Daniel Seikel

The overlooked democratic deficit Why the democratisation of the EU has to start with European Single Market law

Abstract

Europe is in a crisis. In the upcoming elections for the European Parliament, it is possible that right-wing populist parties might increase their votes. Criticism of the democratic deficit within the European Union is growing. Many of the currently discussed reform proposals ignore the problem of the over-constitutionalisation of European Single Market law. Any strategy aiming at democratising European Governance must begin by addressing this problem. more... (in German) 

Issue 01/2019

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 3-12

Thomas Barth, Georg Jochum, Beate Littig

Power-analytical perspectives on (un)sustainable work

Abstract

The transition towards a sustainable working society involves a deep socio-ecological change. In this article the authors argue that a power-analytical approach is indispensable to understanding and overcoming the barriers to such a transformation, and to identifying the options and actors for factual change towards sustainability. They aim to show the usefulness of the heterogeneous power discourse in the social sciences and especially in the research fields of work and sustainability to explore the pathways towards a sustainable working society. This approach is demonstrated based on the example of working and production conditions in global meat production. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 13-21

Sarah Nies

Valorisation and obstinacy. Sustainability in workers’ own conceptions of work objectives

Abstract

Sustainable work is concerned with more than the living and working conditions of the employees involved, it also refers to work and production within a broader set of interrelations in social, spatial and temporal terms. Likewise, while being confronted with the performance targets of management, workers express their own distinct conceptions of work objectives closely related to the external impact of their work. The article discusses the extent to which issues of sustainable work are addressed as part of the tensions between claims on content-related work demands and demands of valorisation. A brief overview of two empirical case studies (customer advisory service and engineering) shows that while workers’ demands on work content are highly defined by value of use, sustainability goals are not necessarily part of their claims. However, the threat to their own work objectives opens up disputes about the purpose of production. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 22-30

Stefanie Graefe

Exhaustion, resilience, sustainability. The new subjectivity of work

Abstract

Current debates on the ecological consequences of the global rise of resource and energy consumption increasingly address the subjective costs of the post-Fordist economy. Subsequently, the concept of “sustainable work” claims to bundle both dimensions – the exploitation of the “inner” as well as the “outer” nature of man – and thus to conceptually support the socio-ecological transformation of the working society. The article first discusses the assumed relationship between the ecological and subjective dimensions of work. Based on the example of increasing mental exhaustion rates in the context of subjectivised work, it is demonstrated that greater social sensitivity to the health of employees does not necessarily lead to more sustainable employment conditions, but can also help to reinforce the underpinning logic of subjectivised work. This is illustrated through the increasingly popular concept of resilience. Finally, the critical content of the concept of sustainable work in the context of subjectivised work and psychosocial well-being is raised. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 31-38

Martin Coy, Frank Zirkl, Tobias Töpfer

Peripherally and yet globally linked. The Brazilian agribusiness and its consequences for spatial processes and working environments

Abstract

Effects of globalisation not infrequently cause significant economic and social changes in rural areas. In the case of the Midwestern region of Brazil, which is dominated by state-of-the art agribusiness, especially for high-yield cash crops such as soya beans produced for a global market, there have been some severe changes: the rural population being displaced by the modern agribusiness. Equally some significant changes in the regional urban development as well as in regional work regimes have been observed. The authors describe the driving forces, cycles, and impacts of the change processes using the example of one Brazilian region and they discuss the resulting problems for sustainable development. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 39-47

Markus Wissen, Ulrich Brand

Working-class environmentalism and socio-ecological transformation. Contradictions of the imperial mode of living

Abstract

Beginning with Fordism, wage labour in the global North has been a component of an imperial mode of living: The exploitation of labour has been alleviated by the possibility of externalising socio-ecological costs in space and time. More recently however, multiple crisis phenomena have indicated that this constellation could have come to an end. The promises of the imperial mode of living seem to be less and less redeemable, not only for most of the people in the global South but also for an increasing number of workers in the global North. Future jobs and wealth can no longer be attained – given that authoritarian solutions are excluded – at the cost of socio-ecological destruction but by the very protection of the environment. The authors discuss the resulting opportunities and obstacles for a socio-ecological transformation and an active participation of workers and unions herein. They analyse to which extent the intensifying contradictions of the imperial mode of living can be dealt with through a working-class environmentalism (Stefania Barca), which essentially consists of an organic link between wage labour, reproductive work and ecology. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 48-51

Nora Lohmeyer

Power and countervailing power in global supply chains in the garment industry: The ExChains network

Abstract

Global supply chains – not just in the garment industry – are characterised by huge power asymmetries between workers and their globally operating employers. Given these unequal power relations, a change in the working conditions of workers requires particular approaches. The garment worker and trade union network ExChains demonstrates how building local bargaining power can be combined with transnational solidarity work. It thus serves as an example for the development of countervailing power, but also shows ways towards the necessary transnationalisation of union work more generally. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 52-58

Klaus Pickshaus

Good work and the ecology of work. Contextual conditions and problems of strategy

Abstract

Good work with a broad understanding of work-related ecology is a key topic of the upcoming socio-ecological transformation of work and industry. On the basis of the health risks to employees, this article develops an understanding of an “ecology of work” comprising a mode of production and a way of life that are compatible with nature as well as questions of employment security and quality of work in the context of a socio-ecological transformation. A sustainable strategy will have to respond to the conflicting objectives occurring in this transformative process. The author proposes decision models centered around forms of democratic participation. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 59-63

Sybille Pirklbauer, Florian Wukovitsch

Sustainable work – a perspective from the Chamber of Labour (Austria) on the representation of interests of employees

Abstract

How can the groups representing the interests of employees contribute to strengthening sustainable work, both socially and ecologically? The authors discuss this question from the perspective of the Chamber of Labour, the statutory interest representation of employees in Austria. The term sustainable work comprises equally the support of the regenerative capacities of nature as of society and individuals. The relevant policy fields presented in this article therefore include alternative concepts of economic prosperity and social progress, aspects of a just transition to a low-carbon economy and claims for a balanced allocation of gainful employment and reproductive work, thus also indicating the requirement for a further reduction of working time. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 64-70

Reinhard Loske

The two faces of the sharing economy. Recommendations for public interest regulation aimed at the welfare of the community

Abstract

A worldwide boom of the sharing economy can currently be witnessed which is having an impact on various sectors of the economy, including labour. There are mainly two reasons why aspects of the sharing economy such as ride and car sharing, apartment and office sharing, food sharing or crowdfunding are showing enormous growth rates: the opportunities provided by the internet to bring together supply and demand within seconds, and the declining importance of ownership compared to “access” in modern capitalism. Over recent years a tendency towards commercialisation could be observed in the sharing sector that was originally driven by more idealistic motives. Multi-billion dollar companies such as Airbnb and Uber are symbols of this development. They are the winners, but they also produce losers in society. In this article four perspectives of the sharing economy are presented: sustainability oriented, business oriented, solidarity oriented, and a traditional conservative perspective. The author argues that the sharing economy needs a regulatory framework that ensures social rights, environmental sustainability and fair competition. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 71-74

Sebastian Brandl

On the marginality of extended concepts of work

Abstract

Definitions of sustainable work range from green jobs as a modernised model of work by means of environmental protection to extended concepts of work. The latter focus on the potentials of all forms of work for individual und societal need satisfaction and development capacity in order to meet the multiple norms of justice of sustainability. However, extended work concepts are marginal in the discourse on sustainable development und sustainable work. The article points out the reasons for this fact and identifies challenges for the further development of extended concepts of work. more... (in German) 



WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 1/2019, pp. 75-77

Karina Becker

Exclusionary sustainability through power relations and social inequality in enterprises

Abstract

The article takes up the observation that the sustainability of one individual’s working and living conditions and health is anything but sustainable for others. Based on two examples, the author discusses the thesis of an exclusionary sustainability. In organised work in enterprises, it is particularly those employees involved in precarious employment who are excluded from sustainable standards of protection. And work arrangements in private households often involve solutions to self-care which create conflicts for the employers which are accompanied by non-sustainable health and well-being conditions for migrant workers. more... (in German) 


Previous issues (05/2014-06/2018)

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