"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 04/2019

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 247-259

Sabine Klinger, Enzo Weber

Germany – a country of multiple jobholders


Since 2003, the number and ratio of multiple jobholders has more than doubled, even though the German labour market has been experiencing a strong and sustained upswing. This study analyses multiple jobholding from a time-series as well as a cross-section perspective. We use rich register data and logit estimations. The microeconometric findings are linked to macroeconomic trends. Workers hold multiple jobs primarily because of factors affecting earnings or hours in the main job. Towards the upper end of the earnings distribution, there is no renewed increase in the probability of taking on a secondary job and we do not find evidence that another job enriches the job portfolio as such. Moreover, female workers, migrants, workers in west Germany as well as in service sectors display a higher than average probability of multiple jobholding. However, the individual factors only partly explain the rise of multiple jobholding in the examined time frame. Hence, we argue that the far-reaching exemption of second marginal jobs from social security contributions and taxes sets the wrong incentives. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 260-269

Thomas Haipeter

Transnational articulation of workers’ interests in the global works council of VW


Transnational representation of workers’ interests has to cope with two challenges: to identify common interests and to organise the interplay between the local, national and transnational levels of interest representation. Both challenges form the respective practice of articulation developed by transnational interest representations. The practice of articulation has different dimensions such as interpretations, normative expectations or power. It is to be regarded as a conflictual social process, and it will be able to fix interests only partially and temporarily. At VW the transnational articulation of interests is, on the one hand, backed up by the organisational and institutional power of the German interest representatives and the transfer of national power resources to support transnational action. On the other hand, coordination is framed by the Charter of Labour Relations and the supporting role of the general secretariat of the global works council. The practice of articulation depends on interpretations of the actors, based on the common goal of safeguarding of locations and employment as well as working conditions. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 260-269

Stephan Meise

Employees with migration background: Milieu-specific approaches to interest representation


Employees with migration background are not composed of mainly ‘ethnically’ determined, homogeneous groups. Among immigrants, different social milieus have emerged, along with diverse and unequal access to institutions of collective interest representation, in particular to trade unions. The article explores this previously insufficiently researched correlation, using the example of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and Germans of Turkish origin both living in three different regions in Lower Saxony. The perspective of the milieu-specific structure of socio-political representation proposed here not only enables an overcoming of generalising and thus ultimately ethnicising views of immigrants. Furthermore, it will be possible to identify and reflect on different needs of interest groups and specific access problems depending on the social milieu. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 278-289

Malte Lübker

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report 2018 /2019: Higher wage settlements support growth in Europe


Within the European Union nominal wages grew by 2.8 per cent in 2018, a considerably higher rate of growth than in prior years and wage growth is set to continue almost unabated in the current year. In the eurozone, wages received a boost from a 2.0 per cent increase in negotiated wage rates last year, the largest gain in five years. Despite above-average increases in most eastern European countries, large differences in pay levels persist across Europe ; annual compensation of employees ranges from € 9,100 (Bulgaria) to € 70,000 (Luxembourg). Despite a weaker economic outlook, further wage growth remains imperative as it strengthens domestic demand. It is also an important precondition for higher inflation expectations and hence a normalisation of the ECB’s monetary policy. However, collective bargaining first and foremost serves social and distributional objectives. Strengthening Europe’s collective bargaining institutions could be an important contribution towards addressing the concerns regarding social injustice that are voiced by citizens across the EU. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 290-297

Peter Ellguth / Susanne Kohaut

Collective bargaining and works councils: data on coverage and development from the IAB establishment panel 2018


This article continues the annual reporting of the IAB in WSI-Mitteilungen on collective bargaining and company level representation of interests with data for 2018. First, the commitment of the companies to collective bargaining agreements is presented by sector, company size and federal state. Thereby the still persisting differences between west and east Germany are taken into account. Since 1996, collective bargaining coverage in both parts of the country has shown a clear downward trend, even though the recent development has been less clear. These results are complemented by information on works councils and alternative forms of company employee representation. In the long run a distinct downward movement is also apparent for works council coverage. However, in 2018 this trend seems to have been broken. The various forms of employee representation not legitimised by law are characterised primarily by their low stability. Finally, the joint examination of both levels of interest representation points to the extensive gaps of co-determination on the shop floor (betriebliche Vertretungslücken) and also completely blank spots with no collective agreement at all. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 298-304

Heiner Heiland

Platform work in focus. Results of an exploratory online survey on platform-based courier work


For the first time, this article presents data on platform-based food courier work, which represents a new form of precarious and digital work. On the basis of an online survey, the social structure of workers and their working conditions are presented and set in relation to the DGB Index “Gute Arbeit”. The platforms exercise extensive control over the work process. As a result, couriers feel at the mercy of technology, report mediocre job satisfaction at best and very little identification with their work. But despite the high turnover of employees, which can also be considered as an individual exit strategy, there is a surprisingly high willingness to protest and strike among the “riders”. As it turns out, despite the individualised work, the workers are in constant communication with each other. Contrary to general and trade union assumptions, there is certainly an organising potential that, strategically speaking, can correct the asymmetry of power in platform work to the benefit of the employed. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 305-308

Hartmut Seifert

Options as a new principle of working time policy


The article describes and discusses new collective bargaining agreements that offer employees the choice of either increasing income or reducing working hours. It can be shown that these agreements on optional working time enrich flexible working time forms with innovative elements in two ways. First, they provide employees with guaranteed rights to reduce and extend the length of working hours according to their individual wishes. Second, they expand the scope for time autonomy. It is proposed to transfer the principle of optional timing also to atypical working hours during the night or at the weekend and to introduce the option of choosing between money supplements and corresponding reductions in working hours. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 309-312

Werner Feldes

Knowledge management in employee representation. A factor for success with potential for development


The high degree of utilisation of knowledge in companies and the generation change in the co-determination committees cause employee representation bodies to deal with their own knowledge management. Their ability to benefit from their internal knowledge in a structured manner is becoming a key success factor. Works councils should therefore promote networking amongst their members and experts and align their organisation and qualification processes with the transfer of knowledge. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 313-314

Bernd Raffelhüschen

The ‘Respect Pension’ does not deserve respect - it benefits the rich


The ‘Respect Pension’ proposed by employment minister Hubertus Heil violates the three most important principles of the welfare state. The first violation is that it does not reflect the life-performance principle of the statutory pension insurance (GVR). Each individual who has been in employment for 35 years receives the minimum pension, whether earned through the contributions or not. The second violation is to the fundamental principle of equality within the last safety net of the welfare state. The old age poor are placed in a better position than all other poor. Age alone is no merit, and if the basic social security provision is raised, then the principle of equality must be a provision for all individuals. The third violation caused by the ‘Respect Pension’ to our constitutional welfare state is to be found in the lack of means-testing. Approximately four out of five potential beneficiaries are not poor, rather they receive not only payments according to the statutory pension insurance but also receive other steady income or have considerable assets. Finally, the imbalance of the fiscal burden between the younger and older generations is exacerbated. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2019, pp. 315-317

Judith Kerschbaumer

Providing a basic state pension without means testing is an acknowledgement of a life’s work


Today, individuals who have worked for decades in full-time employment in the low-wage sector, must fear receiving a state pension which is below the basic provision and is insufficient to live on. The decision of the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, to upgrade low pensions within the pension insurance system to a basic state pension, without means-testing, for those having had 35 years of employment, childcare or nursing care, acknowledges lifelong achievement and is socio-politically correct, and long overdue. The basic state pension will not eradicate old-age poverty but is a significant contribution to improving income after a lifetime of employment for those with below-average pensions. For these individuals, Heil’s proposal, in addition to the basic pension provision, to provide improved housing benefit is an answer to the widespread problem of unaffordable housing. more... (in German) 

Issue 03/2019

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 159-167

Dieter Sauer, Richard Detje

Right-wing populism in companies. Manifestations, background, political handling


What is the background and what are the influencing factors of right-wing populist perceptions amongst wage earners? Why do above-average numbers of union members vote for the AfD? The article elaborates some answers to these questions, based on empirical research. An insidious normalisation of day-to-day racism and growing xenophobic resentments can be observed in factories, service companies and administrations. Searching for the causes leads to the theory of an intensification of the deterioration of conditions in the working world itself, even beyond the areas of precarious work. The demands of working life challenge the foundations of the meritocratic framework of capi­talism. When these demands lead to a loss of security and recognition at work and to a loss of work perspectives, then they become a breeding ground for right-wing populism. Therefore it is not only the arenas of civil society where the fight against the populist and extreme right has to be promoted ; it is the struggle against the poor and insecure conditions of working life which is essential to overcoming right-wing populism. These are challenges for trade unions in the labour-policy field of action. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 168-176

Klaus Dörre

“We want our country back!” Workers, devaluation and the AfD party


The article addresses right-wing populist orientations occurring among unionised workers. On the basis of empirical studies, it examines a set of collective devaluations which generate the problematic issues which the radical right uses to fill the social question with its own content. It reconstructs the deep history of active trade unionists and works councils who openly sympathise with the AfD party or even more extreme right-wing organisations. Workers in east Germany often feel that they belong to a special class that results from collective devaluation. Breaking through this logic of devaluation can become a starting point for trade union ­counter-strategies. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 177-184

Wolfgang Menz, Sarah Nies

Fragile security and legitimation problems.
Right-wing populism from the perspective of the sociology of work


Discussing common explanations for the rise of right-wing orientations from the perspective of the sociology of work, the article elaborates three arguments: (1) The objectification of economic forces results in a “de-legitimisation” of labour politics and leads to an imaginary shifting of action capacity to the politics of migration and borders. (2) New forms of authoritarian orientations can be interpreted as a fear-driven submission under systemic imperatives (“partial market authoritarianism”). (3) Work-related insecurities are countered with reference to the principles of meritocracy while their validation becomes simultaneously fragile. Right-wing populist arguments make it possible to refute this fragility and to legitimise exclusion and devaluation by referring to “achievement and merit”. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 185-192

Wolfgang Schroeder, Samuel Greef, ­Jennifer Ten Elsen, Lukas Heller

Right-wing populist activities in company contexts and trade union reactions


The increased attractiveness of right-wing populism is not only a test for democracy, but also a challenge for the DGB unions, which see themselves as a “bulwark against right-extremists”. This article examines the actors, issues and goals of right-wing populist activities in company contexts and possible trade union counter-reactions. The new right-wing populist activities follow a path-dependent logic. They connect vertical and horizontal lines of conflict. In this way, the anti-establishment perspective of left-wing trade unionists against co-management will be linked around a right-wing, sealing-off location logic of yellow trade unions to form a new mobilisation strategy. The decisive factor for this strategy is an opportunity structure made up of structural developments and social challenges. The works council elections in 2018 opened up a window of opportunity for a stronger anchor-hold on the shop floor. The trade unions are responding to these interventions in a context-bound manner with reactions ranging from conflict to demarcation. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 193-201

Martin Kronauer

Right-wing tendencies among workers and the need for social transformation


The article discusses two explanations for the rise of right-wing (xenophobic and nationalist) allegiances of workers in various European countries and the USA and considers the consequences of those explanations for urgently needed social transformations. The first explanation refers to the “imperial mode of living” at the expense of the global South in which the working classes are also entangled, and which is expressed in the rejection of refugees and migrants. The second explanation refers to the symbolic and political “marginalisation of the working class” particularly since the 1970s. According to this argument, workers support the nationalist right in order to bring to bear their interests that have been blocked out of the public sphere. In the light of these arguments, the article explores the question whether there might be a chance to forge new alliances that are able to promote the urgently needed social transformation in the direction of a more egalitarian and open society – far from nationalism and xenophobia – and even to address the pressing issues of global social exploitation and ecological devastation. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 202-211

Ulrich Brinkmann, Maren Hassan-Beik, Lukas Zappino

Solidarity and skepticism. Flight, migration and the social question from the viewpoint of active unionists


In this article the relationship between trade unions and right-wing populism is examined on the basis of a previously little researched group of active unionists – members who, according to the theory, operate between the structure of union employees and members in the workforce and thus exercise a specific pivotal function. The study is exploratory and combines qualitative and quantitative survey methods. Despite clear signs of growing precarity and uncertainty, and in addition to an eroding basis of trust in poli­tics, an unbroken (or newly re-kindled) conflict orientation can be identified. Thus, trade unions are the major hope in the fight against labour-related unreasonable demands and social downgrading. Moreover, the survey brings to light ethnically oriented conflict interpretations and reservations expressed towards refugees, indicating three lines of interpretation. However, the sample as a whole is heterogeneous, which is illustrated by a cluster analysis identifying three groups, each with different worldviews. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 212-219

Jörg Flecker, Gudrun Hentges, István Grajczjar, Carina Altreiter, Saskja Schindler

The extreme and populist right and the social question.
Developments in France, Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands


This article addresses the question of the extent to which the move from neo-liberal to pro-welfare state programmatic can be seen as a recipe for success for extreme and populist right-wing parties in Europe. Parties combining authoritarian socio-cultural positions with a support for the welfare state in their socio-economic positions are often labelled “left-authoritarian” or “exclusivist solidarity”. They rely heavily on welfare chauvinism, i. e. the exclusion of a nationally defined marginal group. Taking France, Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands as country examples, this article discusses the extent to which extreme and populist right-wing parties actually show such new orientations. In doing so, it summarises the development of far-right parties, describes changes in their programmatic and portrays the parties’ electorate. In places where these parties are in government, the implementation of their programmes is assessed. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 220-224

Claudia Peter, Michael Brecht

Right-wing populism in companies and regions: A Herculean task for management and trade union policies


It is not a new problem for trade unions to be confronted with cases of discrimination, exclusion or racism in the working environment. The state elections in Baden-Württemberg in 2016 however reflected a turning point (as did the later parliamentary elections in 2017). In the administrative district of Rastatt 17.6% of voters chose the right-wing party AfD, in some constituencies voting being as high as 30%. In the parliamentary elections 2017 it was 11.5%. Since spring 2018 three of the works council members of the 35-strong Mercedes Benz works council are from the right-wing grouping ‘Zentrum Automobil’ in Rastatt. This article presents the work of the metalworkers’ union IG Metall in Gaggenau and how it positions itself against right-wing populism and its influence in companies and the region as a whole by the promotion of trade-union, democratic values. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 225-228

Ulli Schneeweiß

Right-wing populism as a challenge in establishments represented by ver.di and ver.di administrations


Right-wing populism has arrived in the union ver.di, to varying degrees depending on the sector. Cases of open racism have so far remained a rarity. The confrontation with right-wing populism in the everyday life of trade unions in establishments and their administrations has largely been characterised by having to get used to right-wing populist narratives, repression of the political mandate and uncertainty amongst the officials. The author appeals for a quick and clear decision by the union leadership in the handling of sympathisers and officials of the right-wing political party AfD. Only in this way can the trade unions make credible their struggle for a humane and fair society in the future. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 229-231

Thomas Fischer

Inclusive solidarity – the trade unions’ answer to right-wing populism


The article demonstrates how right-wing populist actors that are to be found not only in the Alternative for Germany party (AfD), but also amongst trade union members and interest representation, try to capitalise on existing problems in the world of work. By linking ‘national’ and ‘social’ questions, they achieve division within society which consciously focuses on the exclusion of non-German nationals and a turning inwards, closing off external influences. The DGB and its member trade unions are demonstrably in favour of inclusive solidarity as the maxim of trade union action. This encompasses: resolutely combatting group-focused enmity in companies and within society, fighting racism and social exclusion, improving trade union support for the improvement of working and living conditions for all employees and displaying trade-union solidarity beyond the limits of company and organisation. The initialised trade-union dialogue is an invitation to all democratic forces to join together and set a clear sign that the exclusive understanding of solidarity as demonstrated by the right-wing populist groupings is unacceptable. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 232-234

Michael Fischer

Trade union strategies to counter right-wing ideologies


The right-wing populist party AfD (Alternative for Germany) has become firmly established in all of Germany’s Länder (federal states) and since the last federal elections in 2017 are the third strongest party in the Bundestag. These right-wing populist successes, which also have an effect on other political parties, present an enormous challenge for unified trade union action. Not least in the struggle to interpret these right-wing populist successes. Trade unions are called upon to oppose these developments at varying levels; as regards values at the workplace, in enterprises and on the streets; as a lobby for decent labour, social security and an effective and competent state; as well as in their core business of dealing with the company, industries and collective bargaining policy. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2019, pp. 235-237

Hans-Jürgen Urban

The duty of proactivity in democratic politics


Social deprivation, individual insecurity and shortfalls in social recognition are found to be drivers of contempt for elites and also of right-wing populism. Extending the search for causative factors to the world of work has proved productive. Above all, the fears induced by the constant restructuring of work engender receptiveness to elements of far-right agitation within companies. This seems to call for a new democratic social reformism, one which trade unions should also participate in shaping. Their interest politics would be served by an inclusive class policy which balances out and groups the interests of both native and migrant wage-earners in companies, in the systems of the welfare state and in wider society. At the same time, trade unions should redefine their tradition of internationalism to counteract the danger of narrow nationalism restricting the concept of solidarity. more... (in German)

Issue 02/2019

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 2/2019, pp. 87–95

Günther Schmid

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)

German Industrial Relations. Dynamics and Perspectives

German Industrial Relations. Dynamics and Perspectives


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