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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 05/2018

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 347–357

Olaf Groh-Samberg, Nepomuk Hurch, Nora Waitkus

Status competition and social segregation: Dynamics of inequality

Abstract

In view of increased economic inequalities, modernisation theory fails to account for contemporary dynamics of social inequality. Based on an alternative narrative of marketisation, this article outlines how inequality dynamics evolve in “high inequality regimes”. The authors propose an analytical distinction between the dynamics of social segregation, leading to socio-economic as well as cultural and political closure of social class milieus, and the dynamics of status competition within these milieus, leading to heterogeneous effects. The interplay of the two processes offers a perspective for explaining the prevailing lack of political action in face of inequalities that are generally regarded as being too high and a threat to social cohesion. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 358–369

Barbara Binder, Andreas Haupt

Prosperity for all? The development of low-income households since 2005

Abstract

The article deals with the stability of income inequality since 2005 and focuses in particular on the development of low-income households. The authors show that the constant level of inequality has been accompanied by a stagnation of household incomes for most of the income distribution. The upswing in the labour market since 2005 has therefore not led to increased prosperity for either the majority of households nor for those with low incomes. The study shows that the stagnating income inequality conceals a multitude of overlapping developments that are rarely discussed in public. Some households that are strongly integrated into the labour market experience markedly positive income trends and can hence be regarded as the winners of the economic upswing. Households that are disconnected from the labour market – especially inactive households and households in marginal employment – are the losers in a social policy set-up that is increasingly focused on high labour-market integration. A resulting aggravation of inequality in the lower income distribution group was recently overshadowed by pension increases. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 370–381

Patrick Sachweh, Debora Eicher

Attitudes towards a wealth tax in Germany. A vignette study based on recent survey data

Abstract

In the face of rising economic inequality in Germany, a reintroduction of the wealth tax – which was abandoned in 1997 – has become a demand in public and political debate. Based on a vignette study embedded in a recent survey, the paper investigates the characteristics of the wealthy which shape popular support for a wealth tax and how social groups differ in their support. Its findings show that among the characteristics of the wealthy, attributes that indicate meritocratic wealth accumulation lower support for a wealth tax, while non-meritocratic factors increase support. This is especially the case for respondents from lower- and middle-income groups. Upper-income groups disagree with a wealth tax, particularly if the wealthy individuals come from a wealthy family background. All in all, the results underline the significance of merit for the legitimation of wealth and its taxation. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 382–391

Cornelia Koppetsch

Right-wing populism as class conflict? Social degradation and political mobilisation

Abstract

From a perspective of theoretical inequality, the causes of the rise of populist right-wing parties in Europe are attributed either primarily to socio-economic divisions or primarily to cultural divisions. Theoretically as well as empirically an integrated perspective appears more substantial, which understands the conflicts about truth and sovereignty of interpretation that arise in rightwing populism as expression of symbolic struggles which attack the entire régime at the present time. Following Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, the author explains how the political narratives of right-wing populism tie in with pre-political class specific attitudes and habitual patterns. The specificity of these habitual patterns results from transformations in response to the declassification experiences made since 1989, which also affect milieus in the upper and middle classes. The article illuminates the motives of mobilisation in three milieus: the conservative upper class, the traditional middle class and the precarious lower class. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 392–400

ANJA WEIẞ

Global inequalities and contested borders

Abstract

Global inequalities are typically assessed on the basis of income differentials between countries. Yet, sociological inequality research is not interested in income as such, but in the capabilities that result from financial resources. Capabilities or life chances depend on the relations between resources and contexts in which resources are recognised and valued. Hence, a better sociological understanding of context relations and their impact on global inequalities is required. The struggles about access to contexts and about closure of advantageous contexts is an essential structuring force of global inequalities, here termed as social-spatial autonomy. In the tradition of critical social science, the paper argues that conflicts about border closure as well as the rise of right-wing populism in the Global North can only be understood if the structure of global inequalities and, in particular, the importance of social-spatial autonomy are taken into account. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 401–412

Malte Lübker, Thorsten Schulten

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report-2017/2018: Wage developments and the dynamics of inequality

Abstract

The latest European Collective Bargaining Report of the WSI gives an overview on recent trends in wage developments in the European Union in the years 2017 and 2018. It analyses the development of collectively agreed and effective wages against the background of the general economic framework conditions in Europe. Moreover, the report analyses the importance of wage shares and wage dispersion for income inequality in Europe and argues in favour of a strengthening of collective bargaining institutions in order to promote a more inclusive growth model. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 413–419

Anita Tiefensee, Dorothee Spannagel

Income and wealth inequality in Germany

Abstract

In Germany, income inequality has risen since reunification, both in terms of market income and disposable income (after state redistribution). The main reasons for this include polarised wage distribution, the strengthening of capital income and a decline in state redistribution. Wealth inequality has remained high for more than a decade. Essential determinants of wealth are inheritances and donations. In this article the authors summarise the present state of knowledge in the research on income and wealth inequality and they recommend measures in order to prevent a further increase. Strong bargaining coverage as well as the enforcement and increase of the statutory minimum wage and more progressive taxes are key starting points. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 420-424

Tandiwe Gross, Frank Hoffer

Increasing inequality: idealised myths and strategies for change

Abstract

The financial and economic crisis of 2008 has challenged the hegemonic discourse on the unavoidability of social inequality. The aim of this article is to identify the various arguments in the discourse of justification and to show why the arguments presented are not valid. It becomes clear that inequality is neither an unavoidable nor irreversible phenomenon. Rather it is a change in policy that can bring about more fairness and this is both necessary and possible. To this end essential measures are proposed. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 425-426

Stefan Bach

Tax reform: more progression against increasing inequality

Abstract

Despite increasing income and wealth inequality, the effects of progression and redistribution in the German tax system are declining. The cause is that the significantly more progressive income and corporate taxes contribute to less than half of the total income tax revenue, whereas the indirect consumer-related tax has a regressive effect. Relative to the income of the wealthy, the poorer households bear a considerably higher burden. In this article the author considers how this trend can be countered through socio-political and tax measures. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 5/2018, pp. 427-428

Andrej Holm

Living causes poverty

Abstract

Housing conditions are determined by the social situation. The lower the income, the worse are the living conditions. But living conditions are more than merely an effect of social inequality because the living costs burden households with low income significantly more than those better off and thereby intensify inequality within society. As there is no economic advantage in offering low-priced accommodation, the author puts forward the idea that there must be socially-determined housing as an element of public responsibility. Instruments such as a rent brake, housing benefits or housing construction laws do not do justice to the responsibility and are largely unsuited to closing the gaps in the provision of accommodation in towns and cities. more... (in German) 

Issue 04/2018

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 259-269

Jutta Allmendinger, Kerstin Jahn, Markus Promberger, Brigitte Schels, Stefan Stuth

Precarious employment and insecure household situations : Is there consolidated precarity in Germany?

Abstract

Precariousness and the precariat remain issues in the current discourses on the structural change of employment. Precarious employment, although still socially problematic, seems to be relatively widespread in today’s Germany. However, it is still an unsolved empirical question whether there actually is a precariat, understood as a social group or class living and working under precarious conditions, with little prospects to improve their life chances over time – and if so, how large the group is. So far, there is a lack of longitudinal studies, and most of the present studies investigate either precarious employment or precarious living circumstances of households. In this paper both employment and household contexts are considered in order to answer the question whether there actually exists a stable precarized social group in Germany. The empirical analysis is based on the German Socio-Economic Panel (G-SOEP) using data for two decades from 1993 to 2012. Indices capture the complex facets and extent of precarious employment and precarious life situations in the household for a sample of about 10 000 employed individuals. Results show that about one eighth of the surveyed employed individuals in Germany are constantly in a state of precariousness, where precarious employment and precarious life situations in the household are cumulating. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 270-278

Hans J. Pongratz, Lisa Abbenhardt

Representation of interests of the solo self-employed

Abstract

The socio-political representation of interests of the solo self-employed appears inadequate when considering that over 2.3 million persons comprising 6 % of the German labour force are self-employed without employees. Since there are no major associations representing their interests, we conducted 30 interviews with experts in selected sectors (trades and crafts, architecture, journalism, health care, IT-service) following the question : What role do the interests of solo self-employed play within the policies of established chambers, associations, unions and networks ? Our findings show that especially chambers and associations rarely have firm positions concerning these workers. This may result from the fact that they are a hardly visible group within the group of members and also from the heterogeneity of their interests (mainly due to considerable income differences). On the one side self-employed workers are normatively ascribed as entrepreneurs and in other cases perceived as being similar to employees. Both conceptions underestimate the simultaneous effect of both features. Our exploratory study reveals the continuing demand for exchange and cooperation – nationally as well as internationally – between organisations which are committed to interest representation for those working as solo self-employed. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 279-287

Berndt Keller, Hartmut Seifert

Forms of atypical employment in the digitised world of work

Abstract

The article discusses the impact of digitalisation on forms of atypical employment : part-time work, mini-jobs, fixed-term work and agency employment as well as solo self-employment. On the basis of plausible considerations and the analysis of past developments, the following trends can be expected : The extent of part-time work is likely to increase, among other reasons, as a consequence of teleworking. New forms of employment such as crowdworking could replace mini-jobs as a functional equivalent. Digital platforms could change agency work, and hybrid employment in the form of combined dependent and self-employment could increase. Overall, segmentation of the labour market is likely to intensify, becoming more polarised. Generally, the possible structural changes are not determined by technological developments, but depend on political and collective bargaining arrangements. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 288-298

Moritz Boddenberg, Herbert Klemisch

Corporate co-determination in cooperatives : between post-democracy and solidarity

Abstract

In recent times cooperatives are once again increasingly being referred to as organisations that stand for an orientation towards democracy and solidarity within companies and society. In times of growing post democratisation, cooperatives appear to stand for a “different” form of business and are becoming more attractive in perspectives which are critical of capitalism. In those cooperatives strong in members and employees, cooperative principles are increasingly a point of reference in negotiations and require a rethinking of democracy and solidarity as the core elements of corporate business. This article discusses the results of an explorative study in six cooperatives and points out key conflicts between members and employees in the areas of democracy, solidarity and worker participation. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 299-306

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective bargaining and works councils : data on coverage and development from the IAB establishment panel 2017

Abstract

In this article the authors present the dispersion of collective bargaining agreements according to firm size and industries using the latest data from the IAB establishment panel. In 2017 about 49 % of the workforce in west and 34 % in east Germany were employed by firms that were bound to collective agreements. From the beginning of the data collection in 1996 coverage has been distinctly declining, although less pronounced during recent years. Looking at co-determination at plant level, a distinct downward movement in works council coverage in recent years has to be started. In the private sector of west Germany a new all-time low has been reached with only 40 % of the workforce covered within the framework of legally established employee representation. In east Germany, last year’s mark of 33 % confirms an all-time low. Examining both levels of employee participation together the authors mainly address the extensive gaps in co-determination on the shop-floor (betriebliche Vertretungslücken) and additionally completely blank spots with no collective agreement at all. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 307-316

Olaf Struck, Franziska Ganesch

Labour and labour market research : data structure requirements

Abstract

In Germany, comparatively extensive data is collected for labour and labour market research. Nevertheless, there are deficits which can cause problems. The article demonstrates that existing surveys on many key issues, including digitisation, new (hybrid) forms of work, immigration, skills and health at work, only allow insufficient answers. The article identifies challenges for scientifically- founded and current labour research and labour market research. It also presents datasets and their analysis options. It becomes apparent : what is needed is a discussion about changed, viable but content-profitable surveys and data structures. Here the emphasis is to be able to analyse problematic situations for employees, companies and society whether they are economic, or concern qualifications or health problems, in a more scientifically precise way than previously possible. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 4/2018, pp. 317-325

Helge Baumann , Sandra Mierich, Manuela Maschke

Company agreements 2017 – dissemination and topics

Abstract

The article presents data on the dissemination of German company agreements and examines the range of topics using the archive of company agreements of the Hans Böckler Foundation and the representative WSI works council surveys conducted in 2015 and 2017. In addition to a quantitative analysis of company agreements the authors illustrate the range of topics of these agreements, including topics of recent works agreements concluded since 2015. Finally, they differentiate the distribution of these new topics according to various categories of the characteristics of establishments and works councils. The findings suggest that the bigger the establishment, the more agreements there are. Analysing the particular topics, it becomes apparent that data security and privacy is still one of the most regulated topics (about 70 %) ; but when focusing on newly regulated issues, it is working times, occupational safety and risk assessments of psychological strains that are primary subjects of recent company agreements. Particularly newer and highly educated works councils focus on these trending topics. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2018, pp. 326-331

Roman Zitzelsberger

More voting rights on working time: The collective agreement in the metal and electrical industry 2018

Abstract

The 2018 collective agreement for the metal and electrical industry allows the employees more control over their time. Social responsibilities such as child raising and long-term care can be better realised through the possibility to take advantage of temporarily reduced full-time of up to 28 hours. In addition, from 2019 employees with children, relatives in need of care, or those in physically challenging jobs such as shift work, can choose between a remuneration component or eight additional days off work. These new choices are a response to the justified claims made by employees that flexibility may not be a one-way street. In the coming months IG Metall will push forward the implementation and if necessary support this with workplace action. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2018, pp. 331-333

Ralf Krämer

Universal basic income – economically and financially never unconditional

Abstract

Like every public payment, a universal basic income could never be unconditional in social, economic and financial terms. With regard to macroeconomics and funding, the production of commodities and creation of value by paid labour would be the indispensable basis. A decoupling from this would be impossible. For a socially-minded basic income without abolition of the existing welfare state the taxes on all income would have to be more than doubled. Extensive tightened controls would be necessary. The employees would have to bear the bulk of the required funding. Moreover a universal basic income would take effect as a general subvention of wages and put strong pressure on earned income. Socially-minded and emancipatory ideas of basic income therefore are pure wishful thinking. In contrast there is the risk that neoliberal concepts of basic income would come into effect, which would extensively destroy the welfare state and workers’ rights. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2018, pp. 334-336

Kai Lindermann

Basic income – or: the covert abandonment of collective bargaining arrangements

Abstract

The advocates of unconditional basic income (UBI) campaign with the argument that UBI enables a self-determined life. The article points out how vague such a promise is and demonstrates in particular that the model of UBI put forward in the discussion would ultimately lead to a departure from collective bargaining regulations. Yet the concepts only facilitate the already existing separation in working life and reveal themselves as neo-liberal capitulation in the face of the market power of employers. Unlike such a progressive individualisation of politics, the article appeals for a development of new strategies of solidarity in the working world and a solution to existing social deficits through the instruments of social and collective bargaining policies. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2018, pp. 337-339

Florian Blank

Why are proposals for unconditional basic income so popular?

Abstract

The topic of unconditional basic income (UBI) emerges repeatedly in debates on distribution and social politics. Depending on the precise structure of the discussion this is supposed to take the form of either an extension to the existing welfare state on the basis of a benefit that is free of sanctions and unbureaucratic, which means above all a redesigning of the previous basic benefit provision, or it is supposed to replace it completely. The article examines the question of why this proposal to radically restructure the social security system has been so well-received. Four hypotheses are presented. They illustrate existing gaps and problems within the debate on social policy reform options which go beyond UBI and point to a general loss of trust in the social policies of the state. The debate should provide impulse for further development of the social security system rather than a break with it. more... (in German) 

Issue 03/2018

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Sabine Pfeiffer, Norbert Huchler

Industry 4.0 in focus – from vision towards reality?

Abstract

The article discusses whether the concept and vision of Industry 4.0 is sufficiently elaborated to guide empirical research. The conceptual approach touches earlier guiding principles, as well as more recent approaches from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and identifies unanswered questions. Against this background the previous and current interpretations of CIM are compared with those of Industry 4.0 and the empirical contributions combined in this special issue are clustered. These considerations make evident that more basic research is needed to integrate approaches and methods from sociology of work and STS, as well as historical perspectives. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Volker Baethge-Kinsky, Kai Marquardsen, Knut Tullius

Perspectives of maintenance work within ”Industry 4.0”

Abstract

The question about the development prospects for skilled industrial workers in the current debate on Industry 4.0 and digitalisation is the subject of controversial discussion. One of the remaining domains of qualified specialist work in the industrial context is maintenance work. Some researchers argue that the maintenance function, termed as “smart maintenance” and part of the “smart factory” is of growing importance, and there are prognoses that there will be positive effects on the quality of work and the qualifications of the employees. However, there are also indications of contrary developments. In this article, based on an empirical case study on the pilot application of a digital assistance system in the maintenance department of a large company, the authors examine its ambivalent work and qualification effects. On the one hand, specialist maintenance work is still characterised by considerable degrees of freedom in work planning and execution based on professional training and implicit knowledge. On the other hand, de-qualification effects are a realistic threat scenario when using “big data” and assistance systems, at least in perspective. If this path were to be pursued, resistance on the part of the skilled maintenance workers should be expected. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Martin Kuhlmann, Barbara Splett, Sascha Wiegrefe

Assembly Work 4.0? A case study on work-related effects and design perspectives of digital operator guidance

Abstract

Although the discussion about the future of work in the light of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation has been intensified, there is still a lack of in-depth empirical research on the emerging work-related effects of digital technologies. Current research examines case studies which investigate operational digitalisation concepts. Based on one case study, the article provides a concise insight into the work effects of digital operator guidance at an assembly area in the automotive industry and presents the extent to which this technology changes assembly work. Based on workplace observations, interviews with experts and employees as well as a survey, the conclusion of the research is analysed. The use of digital operator guidance is associated with some changes in the work situation and working conditions, but a fundamental change of assembly work is not in sight. However, the case study provides evidence that a digital worker guidance system is accompanied by new design options and that there is a need for action requirements in terms of work policy. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Gernot Mühge

Incorporation of rationality in the organisation ? Digital decision support systems in production

Abstract

In the industrial sector digital decision support systems (DSS) in production planning and control are aimed at reducing the likelihood of incorrect machine scheduling decisions. DSS relate to the area of responsibility of the middle management level which is at the core of this article. On the basis of qualitative data, the author shows that DSS change the coordinating function and restrict the human decision-making competence. Beyond the middle managers, this also applies to the scope of decision making on the part of production employees as well as of partially autonomous working groups. On the one hand, this means that middle managers are relieved of the risk of making wrong decisions and gain space for other, non-repetitive tasks. On the other hand, digital decision support tends to contribute to an automation scenario and, by limiting autonomy, violates an important social and labour policy standard. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Gerhard Syben

Construction 4.0 and consequences for work in construction companies

Abstract

The article presents the forms, status of and prospects for the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the German construction industry, which is seen as an equivalent to Industry 4.0. It is based on the author’s own exploratory empirical study, which in turn is based on interviews with a number of BIM experts and a review of German literature on the subject. The author shows that while BIM is seen as a promising method for increasing productivity and quality, and for improving cost and schedule reliability in construction, it is still not widely used – not least due to reticence towards BIM on the part of clients and architects. Some construction companies have thus taken the initiative, provisionally using parallel structures and special working groups of employees skilled in IT and with BIM experience. However, the key factor in the skills required remains basic construction training and practical experience. Investment in further training is also required. Job losses are not predicted. BIM expertise could also be a crucial factor in a redistribution of roles between professional clients, architects and construction companies. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Tobias Wienzek, Alfredo Virgillito

A silent innovation, not a radical change. The implementation of an Industry 4.0 solution at a furniture manufacturer– a case example

Abstract

In the discourse on the dispersion of digital technologies a disruptive change in regards to the social and economic consequences is often spoken about. Based on a case example, the implementation of an Industry 4.0 solution at a furniture manufacturer, the article shows that the changes due to digitalisation will probably be incremental and path dependent rather than disruptive. This assumption is substantiated by two arguments : First, small and medium-sized enterprises often lack resources for big and risky investments in digital solutions. They prefer to build on existing structures. Second, the case example shows that the implementation of Industry 4.0 does not exclusively depend on technological aspects. Social factors are decisive for the success of implementation processes. In particular it is the participation of the employees and a transparent information policy that are paramount to a successful implementation. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Kerstin Guhlemann, Arno Georg, Olaf Katenkamp

The individual at the centre – or in the way ? Limitations and potentials for humane work structuring in the digital transformation

Abstract

The humane design of cyber-physical systems in Work 4.0 is a key -challenge that can only be met by a clarification of the issue and a precise description of the changes and states of the working conditions. The article therefore provides an overview of the interactions between people and machines in the context of cyber-physical systems, thereby enabling the impacts on the employees to be shown. In order to grasp the creative possibilities of work structuring, but also the obstacles that are faced, it is necessary to focus on the strategies and attitudes of works councils. The findings are empirically based on case studies in pioneer enterprises. The possibility of work processes controlled by machines based on real-time data emphasises the need for a proactive, holistic perspective on prevention. To realise this aim, it is not necessary to have a complete understanding of the algorithms, but rather to strengthen the awareness of relevant questions that need to be asked on shaping aspects of the work process with regard to the well-being of the employees. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Thomas Haipeter, Inger Korflür, Gabi Schilling

New coordinates for a pro-active labour policy. Experiences from the union project Work 2020 in North Rhine-Westphalia

Abstract

The project Work 2020, initiated by unions from the manufacturing sector in North Rhine-Westphalia, aims at gaining knowledge about factors that may facilitate a pro-active labour policy and about the chances for unions and works councils to widen their scope of codetermination and influence under the conditions of Industry 4.0. The project focuses on dialogic techniques in order to reflect the ongoing changes taking place in the plants amongst employees, works council members and also management and to identify new challenges in the field of labour policy. The process is supported by union-oriented consultants, the union itself, and scientists. A central instrument in the organisation of the process is to map digitalisation and change in each plant taking part in the project. The landscapes of Industry 4.0 drawn by the actors show a very different picture, both within and between the plants. The general view represents a mosaic of partly connected, partly isolated strategies of digitalisation rather than a homogeneous development. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Ingo Matuschek, Frank Kleemann

“You can’t regulate what you don’t know“. Labour-management contracts as a means of labour policy regulation of Industry 4.0 and digitalisation

Abstract

Technological and organisational changes in the contemporary working world are shaped by processes of digitalisation and the introduction of components of Industry 4.0. Its consequences for work and manufacturing processes pose challenges for the representation of interests at the plant level. Labour-management contracts are a powerful instrument for works councils if it comes to mediating interests in processes of rationalisation. However, both technological and organisational characteristics of digitalisation make it difficult to make use of this instrument. Based on interviews with works-council members conducted as part of case studies on the introduction of Industry 4.0 applications, the article identifies typical problematic constellations for the agency of works councils in the face of ongoing processes of digitalisation, and discusses necessary learning processes (of trade unions) in a yet unclear field of action. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Jürgen Klippert, Moritz Niehaus, Detlef Gerst

Good work through digital technology? Experiences with the application of digital worker-assistance systems

Abstract

Based on examples of digital worker-assistance systems used in assembly, this article examines digital transformation from the perspective of labour policy. Two case studies show the extent to which production work is changed, which strategies are pursued by works councils in the organisation of digitised work, the role played by examples of good work and the extent to which works councils can realise their capacity to intervene. There is a particular focus on the significance of employee participation. It is demonstrated that technological modernisation alone has neither a good nor bad influence on working conditions, rather it is the work structure that is decisive. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Melanie Frerichs, Viktor Steinberger

Smart food factory: Characteristics of Industry 4.0 in the food industry and implications for employee representation

Abstract

One of the largest German sectors, the food industry, is focusing on the smart food factory. In this article, results of current research carried out by the Hans Boeckler Foundation (HBS) and the Food, Beverages and Catering Union (NGG) examining the characteristics of Industry 4.0 in six enterprises within the sector are presented on the basis of interviews with experts. Different approaches are presented which are influenced, amongst other factors, by the specifics of the sector and the division between larger enterprises on one hand with a strong bias towards technology and the small and medium-sized enterprises on the other. The article presents the methodological approach of the analysis and the progress of the implementation of Industry 4.0, as well as the essential results demonstrated through the example of a case study. Guideline proposals and recommendations for action on the part of the workforce representation in the digital transformation process are presented. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2018

Welf Schröter

Appeal for a change in perspective in the discourse on organisation within trade unions

Abstract

The article reflects trade union competence for sustainability in the process of digital transformation. According to the author a change in perspective is necessary; from ‘catching-up digitalisation‘ to ‘forward looking‘ structuring of autonomous software systems. The idea of the person as vital player can soon shift to the autonomous software-system as vital player. The person must be at the centre of changing work structures when thinking about self-learning software. A new concept is needed on the part of trade unions in their support for works and staff councils. more... (in German) 


 

Issue 02/2018

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Lucio Baccaro, Jonas Pontusson

Economic growth after Fordism: new approaches to comparative political economy

Abstract

In this article we investigate how national political economies responded to the erosion of the demand-driven growth model of the post-war period. Our analytical approach concentrates on the relative importance of different components of aggregate demand, in particular exports and household consumption, and on the dynamic relations among the “demand drivers” of growth. We illustrate this approach by comparing patterns of economic growth in Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK over the period 1994-2007. Our discussion emphasises the fact that export-led growth and consumption-led growth have different implications for distributive conflict. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Frank Bandau

Storming Labour’s last strongholds: The political right’s attack on the Ghent system in Sweden and Denmark

Abstract

The Nordic countries have long been considered a paradise for trade unions, having shown ability to stem the tide of union decline basically due to their Ghent systems of unemployment insurance. But over the last two decades, the Ghent effect seems to have lost some of its power as labour unions have no longer been spared from substantial membership losses. The article shows that well-directed legislative changes to the Ghent system introduced under right-wing governments contributed substantially to the decline in union membership in the two Scandinavian Ghent countries; Sweden and Denmark. While the deliberate erosion of the Ghent system substantially lowered union density in Sweden, the unions’ membership losses in Denmark partly resulted from decoupling unions from unemployment insurance. The reforms were especially disastrous for the blue-collar confederation LO. While the Swedish unions can rely on the help of the Swedish Social Democrats in “repairing” the Ghent system, the Danish unions will have to find other ways to attract workers. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Olaf Struck

Problems of the labour market integration of refugees

Abstract

In the past, migration flows have contributed to the stratification of the German labour market. Recent migration exceeds the scale of the previous immigration and so the question arises: Will the integration of the new immigrants into the labour market succeed? Based on the categories of research into the conditions of successful labour market integration, we examine the ways in which the German labour market can accommodate the immigrants and how the process is currently being achieved. In principle, there are good opportunities to achieve a high level of labour market integration through active education, labour market and reception policy. This article clarifies the necessary measures. However, in the past two years considerable problems have also become apparent in the process of suitably introducing the necessary qualification measures. This increases the risk of an underclass in the labour market, with refugees being absorbed into the precarious segment of the labour market which is linked to a permanent lack of participation opportunities for the migrants and costs for the welfare state. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Anne Busch-Heizmann, Timothy Rinke

The impact of firm structures on the earnings of women and men. Results of the Linked Employer-Employee Survey of the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP-LEE)

Abstract

Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) and the 2011 implemented Linked Employer-Employee Survey (SOEP-LEE) the article examines the efficacy of firm policies which are assumed to foster equality of opportunities for women and men. For this purpose, the associations between these firm structures and the average earnings of female and male employees are analysed. The results show that the average earnings of the respondents benefit from binding formalisation measures, and that this is the case especially for female employees. However, examining other variables, the analyses reveal no effect of less-binding formalisation measures. Concerning firm-specific policies for balancing family and work, the analyses indicate that measures on working (time) flexibility have relatively high chances of reducing inequalities in the earnings whereas other results are surprising, for example that childcare measures favour men more than women. The empirical results are discussed in terms of the “flexibility stigma” and of arguments relating to neo-institutionalism. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Malte Lübker, Thorsten Schulten

WSI Minimum Wage Report 2018: Consumer price developments dampen real wage gains

Abstract

In January 2018 new minimum wages came into forceacross a large number of countries, in part they entailed substantial gains for employees. In the European Union, the dynamic growth trajectory of previous years continued with a median increase of 4.4 %. However, the recent uptick in consumer prices implies more modest real gains of 2.8 % (compared to 5.1 % in the previous year). The driving force behind this trend is particularly rapid minimum wage growth in a number of member states in Central and Eastern Europe. Starting from a substantially lower level, minimum wages in these countries continue to close in on those in Western Europe, in particular when differences in purchasing power are taken into account. The WSI Minimum Wage Report analyses these developments and places them within the context of the current political debate around a European minimum wage policy. In addition to the recent push in this direction by the French President Macron, a European framework for minimum wages has also been endorsed by the political parties CDU, CSU and SPD in their preliminary negotiations towards a governing coalition. The report concludes that in Germany, with its comparatively low minimum wage levels, there is still need for action to achieve living wages. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Thorsten Schulten, WSI-Tarifarchiv

The German Collective Bargaining Round 2017: Subdued increase in real wages

Abstract

The current annual collective bargaining report of the WSI Collective Agreement Archive contains a comprehensive analysis of the 2017 bargaining round and gives an overview of the demands and results as well as a calculation of the annual wage increases. In 2017 collectively agreed wages grew on average 2.4 % in nominal terms. As the inflation rate was 1.8 % there was only a small 0.6 % increase in real wages. In 2017 the DGB affiliated trade unions concluded new agreements for about 8.7 million employees. At the same time a further 10.7 million employees received wage increases on the basis of collective agreements which were concluded in 2016 or even earlier. In the light of the positive economic framework conditions, more expansive wage deals are expected in 2018. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Jan-Paul Giertz, Robert Scholz

Strategic HR-management without a designated director of human resources?

Abstract

The long-term success of a company depends to a considerable extent on the qualifications, motivation and propensity to innovate and cooperate of the employees. Company strategy cannot be developed independently of human resources. It is therefore remarkable that in many companies personnel matters are handled below board level or as a cross-departmental responsibility. This has led to a debate on the declining importance of human resources management. The article, based on data from a research project examining the Mitbestimmungsindex (codetermination index), examines whether the feared loss of the significance of human resources’ departments is also empirically verifiable and discusses their role in the light of the growing demands for participation on the side of the employees and the significance of strategic personnel work. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Jürgen Glaubitz

Predatory competition in the German retail trade: on the backs of the employees

Abstract

Large concerns with enormous market power dominate competition in the German retail trade. Fierce predatory competition is taking place, based largely on price wars, opening times and the expansion of premises. Digitalisation serves to intensify this war of competition and and induces far-reaching structural change. The deregulation of the labour market has caused the displacement of hundreds and thousands of full-time jobs and accelerated the increase in precarious employment. This competition is being increasingly carried out at the expense of the employees in retail; after a stressful working life they are faced with the threat of old-age poverty. One reason for this situation is the dramatic exodus from collective agreements. Since the year 2000 when employers terminated their support for the Declaration of the General Applicability of Collective Agreements (AVE) there has been extensive erosion of the collective agreement structure and a drastic reduction in collective bargaining coverage. This article outlines the predatory competition in the retail trade, the far-reaching consequences for the employees and offers starting points for political countermeasures. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2018

Jörg Wiedemuth

Argument for the general application of collective agreements

Abstract

Until today the knowledge of the significance of the mechanisms of the general application of collective agreements: AVE (Allgemeinverbindlicherklärung von Tarifverträge) remains largely with a small group of experts: it is those responsible for collective wage agreements in the trade unions, in employers’ associations, officials in the employment and labour ministries and scientists who deal with this subject. In view of the increasing significance of this subject, the article argues on the one hand for a wider debate on the AVE, to generally awaken more interest amongst employees and within public politics. In addition, cornerstones for a manageable general application of collective agreements are outlined. more... (in German) 

Issue 01/2018

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 3-11

Ulrich Walwei

Trends in the employment of older workers: Frameworks for personnel policy

Abstract

During the last two decades the labour market situation for older workers in Germany has significantly improved in so far that older workers stay longer in the labour market and particularly with their last employer. However, older persons still face difficulties when trying to reenter the labour market after a period of unemployment in spite of improved absorption levels on the labour market in general. The picture does not change even if one considers the fact that firms which have recruited older workers report positively about the performance of their newly recruited employees. The article shows that firms cannot act autonomously regarding their personnel policies One has to take into account interactions with labour supply and context related factors. Demographic change determines the level and the age structure of labour supply to a considerable extent. Labour market institutions, e. g. the pension scheme legislation, influence how far the supply of labour can be utilized. Last but not least, the quality of labour supply also depends on the employability of older workers. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 12-19

Martin Brussig

Extended working lives: driving force, limits, and social inequalities

Abstract

For more than a decade, the labour market participation of older workers has been significantly increasing in Germany. This development is driven by reforms in pensions and labour market policy, and in particular by the regulation of retirement transitions. These reforms provide limited opportunities for early retirement. However, the chances for workers to reach a regular old-age pension at statutory pension age directly after leaving employment (and not unemployment, non-employment or sickness) differ with respect to the exposure to specific risks. Work strains, unemployment and sickness are the decisive risk factors. After the closure of early retirement, these risk factors exert a stronger influence on retirement transitions than before, when workers exposed to varying levels of strain at workwith and without health issues, and both employed and unemployed workers alike, could retire into early retirement programmes. The author examines which demands labour market and welfare policy needs to meet in order to alleviate social risks at the retirement transition—without reducing statutory retirement age again. He pleads for a trias of prevention, rehabilitation and social security. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 20-27

Lutz Bellmann, Sandra Dummert, Ute Leber

Stagnation of age-appropriate personnel measures despite a rising number of older employees

Abstract

The number of older employees in German establishments has increased over the last years. In order to maintain the employability until retirement, establishments can implement personnel measures such as further training or health promotion. The article investigates how widespread such measures are and how they have developed over time. The empirical analysis is based on data from the IAB Establishment Panel, a representative survey of establishments of all sectors and sizes, as well as on data from a specific survey of establishments within the chemical sector. It is shown that the rising employment of older workers is not going along with an increasing use of age-appropriate personnel measures. Establishments seem to favour general solutions directed at the entire staff over measures that are targeted at older employees. Compared to other industries, establishments within the chemical sector use age-appropriate personnel measures more frequently. Due to the collective agreements on demography which apply throughout the German chemical industry, this sector can be regarded as a pioneer industry. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 28-35

Götz Richter, Inga Mühlenbrock

Age-appropriate work structure: challenges and need for action

Abstract

The article analyses contemporary working conditions from the perspective of an age-appropriate working environment. Results from a representative survey on working conditions and health are linked with findings from scientific studies on effects of different working conditions on ageing and health. Important dimensions are workplace design, work organisation, work tasks and a social working environment. The authors argue in favour of preventive company strategies focusing on age-oriented work design. With this aim a continuous documentation of risk management and exposure times is essential. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 36-43

Christina Stecker, Clemens Zierler

Maintaining work ability: the importance of management

Abstract

Against the background of demographic and digital change, maintaining work ability within a company’s workforce is a crucial challenge. In this conceptually based article a novel understanding of leadership is presented which deals with the potential of emerging diversity by considering each individual’s psychological employment contract and organisational commitment to offers of support. The innovative starting point for strategic human resource management is idiosyncratic contracts (I-deals); individual and personal agreements which generate advantages for both managers and employees and complement collective bargaining agreements. Therefore, I-deals introduce possibilities for the experimental testing of “Arbeit 4.0” (Work 4.0) or “Bundesteilhabegesetz”(Federal Law on Participation) or “Flexirentengesetz”( law on flexible pensions) in Germany. First empirical studies have shown that special arrangements forgiven tasks and areas of responsibility as well as those that have an effect on the time perspective to remain in employment are well suited to elderly workers. Due to the lack of empirical evidence, the need for further empirical research is necessary in order to examine effects, as well as possible unintended interdependencies, of I-deals in practice. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 44-50

Klaus Schmierl

Remuneration policy in an age-diverse workforce

Abstract

Demographic change in Germany has led to an increase in the average number of older employees on the one hand, but on the other hand there are numerous problems employing younger successors. The success of human resources management depends on company performance and remuneration policy. The article addresses the question of the extent to which a change in performance must be compulsorily linear in terms of income if older workers cannot achieve the same level of productivity as the younger ones. After a sociological discussion of just criteria the author shows which solutions are pursued in the pay policies of companies to deal with demographic change. He presents empirically investigated and practised examples of remuneration models which do not compromise the company's fairness and productivity in age-mixed or ageing workplaces. Finally, some operational and structural framework conditions are outlined which could prove to be obstacles to an adequate adjustment of remuneration systems in line with the demands of demographic change. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 51-58

Sebastian Brandl, Peter Guggemos, Ingo Matuschek

From the individual case to systematic age management in SMEs

Abstract

Demographic change is now a reality in many German companies. An early withdrawal of older employees is rarely possible (in particular due to socio-political changes), and the recruitment of younger ones is becoming more difficult. At the same time, a prolonged working life is a challenge. With increased age stress can be more difficult to cope with. This calls for innovative, age-appropriate solutions. To this end, companies must develop formats and approaches adequate to the changes in the workforce. However, the IAB-Establishment Panel, for example, shows that despite a high awareness of the problem for many years, operational activities have been recorded at an unchanged low level, even though the collective bargaining parties and initiatives such as INQA (The Initiative New Quality of Work) offer agreements and instruments for this purpose. Demography-based agreements aim at giving businesses an impetus for a company-specific discussion about their ageing workforce. The article reveals how small and medium-sized companies deal with this challenge. It is based on twelve business case studies and shows which solutions they implement, the reasons for their decisions and whether they are developing systematic management strategies to cope with an ageing workforce. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 59-65

Christiane Debler, Cornelia Leunig, Julia Osterwald, Ute Schlegel

Career at 50 plus – creating new career paths: Preliminary results of a qualitative sectoral survey

Abstract

HR development policies need concepts that enable an adequate response to demographic change. Business enterprises will in future need to make more effort to secure their existing potential and focus on experienced and well-qualified employees. An analysis based on qualitative surveys examined the work and life situation of employees aged 50 and over in the chemicals industry. This article reports on initial results from the research. The development opportunities available to this group and their potential career opportunities right through to their retirement from working life were examined. Results revealed clearly what business enterprises would have to do in order to maintain lifelong employability amongst employees. Employers still do not offer sufficient options for employees who wish to change their work situation and their career goals. A prerequisite for change is to address this topic openly, to raise awareness among the social partners of the importance of new career models for the 50 plus employee group and to create appropriate scope for experimentation. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 66-70

Wolfgang Anlauft

Age-appropriate work design: objectives, orientations and success factors in operational planning projects

Abstract

For more than 15 years the average age of the employees working in German firms has been rising and this process is expected to continue over the next ten years. At the same time, working conditions display considerable potential for age-critical complications. Under these conditions, companies must act both preventively (providing for conditions that ensure a healthy and efficient ageing process while in employment) and curatively (through special regulations for employees with limited efficiency). The article describes an exemplary set of actions from analysis up to the shaping of working conditions. Based on a wide range of experience, the challenges, orientations, contradictions and success factors are reflected in the process of change. At the same time the roles of employee participation and co-determination are included. more... (in German) 


 
WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2018, pp. 71-74

Joachim Stork, Werner Widuckel

Operational age-management – six fields of controversy in operative practice

Abstract

The trend towards an increase in the average age of retirement shows significant differences between professions and branches. On the whole it is the exceptional case for employees to reach the legal age of retirement within an employment relationship. It is desirable that in managing an ageing workforce countervailing measures are taken to curb early retirement. The authors discuss six controversial areas within organisations that influence age-management and that may affect the success of its promoters. more... (in German) 


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