"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 04/2018

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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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?


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?


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”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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) 

Issue 08/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 557–565

Hans-Jürgen Bieling

Rise of right-wing populism in the Europe of today – outlines of a socio-theoretical exploration


This article addresses the social – political economic and socio-cultural – causes and driving forces of current right-wing populism of today. For this purpose, it refers to the concept of the “double movement”, developed by the Hungarian-Canadian economic historian Karl Polanyi to explore the rise of fascism in the interwar period. At that time, the contrary dialectic of the two organising principles of economic liberalism and social protection was constitutive of the “double movement”. Also today a “double movement” is discernable. Processes of market-liberal disembedding, caused by globalisation and financialisation generate manifold forms of social exclusion and socio-cultural identity crises, which in turn stimulate processes of social resistance and protection. However, with respect to the current constellation, the analysis needs to move beyond the perspective of the “double movement” by incorporating further social structural and political-strategic components in a socio—theoretical exploration. more... (in German) 


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 566–576

Martin Seeliger

Does European wage coordination work? Findings from the German metal- and electronics-sectors


As a result of European Monetary Union wage developments have gained fundamental importance in the process of safeguarding national competitiveness. Since the mid-1990s, trade unions have met this challenge by establishing initiatives of wage coordination in order to achieve wage development in line with increases in productivity and inflation, thus preventing a race to the bottom and guaranteeing macroeconomic stability. Under conditions of institutional heterogeneity amongst national wage systems and a lack of assertiveness in collective bargaining, trade unions have so far had little success with these initiatives. At the same time, a persisting reference to the importance of wage coordination lies at the heart of European-level trade union cooperation. German trade unions consider this engagement to be a central component of their European core activity. The article analyses this ambivalence on the basis of a qualitative case study with a particular focus on the German metal- and electronics-industry. more... (in German) 


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 577–586

Stephanie Matthes, Joachim Gerd Ulrich

Changes in regional training market conditions as a result of the mobility of young people


The increasing mobility of young people on the labour market is considered to be one of the key factors to solving the problems between supply and demand on regional training markets. However, the extent to which mobile young people already specifically contribute to the balance of supply and demand is unclear, since the official market indicator already reflects the mobility-influenced training market conditions. Therefore, this article is devoted to the construction of an indicator which shows the market conditions still unaffected by mobility. By comparing both indicators, the mobility effects can be measured quite accurately. First analyses indicate that the new indicator is sufficiently valid. According to this, in many regions, the officially favourable supply-demand ratios are in fact mainly due to the mobility of the young people who search and find their training place elsewhere. On the other hand, in some large cities, originally very good supply-demand ratios are reversed by the influx of many commuters from the surrounding areas. Programmes for the promotion of training places should therefore also partly include regions in which the official supply-demand ratio is considered to be good. more... (in German) 


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 587–596

Martin Behrens, Wade Jacoby

Odd twins: Union members within the SPD


German unions and the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) share a long common history. During all those years, however, conflict has occurred on several occasions with the dispute on the labour market reforms under the chancellorship of Gerhard Schröder being the most recent and probably most conflictual example. As the statistical analysis presented in the article reveals, union membership is still high within the ranks of SPD-activists. As data also indicates, however, SPD activists who carry a union card in addition to their party membership are much different from party members without union affiliation in terms of their age, education, but also their workplace activities. In addition, union members within the party share different views on the development of the German welfare state when compared to non-union members. As the analysis also reveals, it is not just union membership as such which is making a difference in terms of party members’ perceptions but also the sequence by which membership in both organisations has been established. more... (in German) 


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 597–604

Anita Tiefensee

How long will private wealth last if income gets lost? WSI report on distribution 2017


An important function of private wealth is securing the level of consumption in the event of a loss of income. Without their current income half of the households could maintain their current level of consumption by using their assets for a maximum of two years. However, this includes 30 percent of households who are in debt or have no significant assets and are thus permanently dependent on their income. 10 percent of households can maintain their current level of consumption for at least 13 years. This study also finds a positive association of protection of consumption with age. However, for every age cohort there are 20 percent of households, which can only secure their current level of consumption by using their assets for a very short time. In particular, single-parent families depend on their current income. The results show that the majority of households have only very limited security in the form of private wealth. It is also argued, securing of consumption can be done at a private or state level. It should take place at one of the two levels, otherwise major life risks are not safeguarded. At both levels is a need for political action. more... (in German) 


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 605–613

Hans J. Pongratz

Representation of interests needed urgently: What own-account workers expect from their union


With over 2.3 million, there are more individual own-account workers in Germany than self-employed persons who have employees working for them. As with any employee, own-account workers seek for good employment conditions for themselves. Trade unions therefore are confronted with the question of the extent to which they want to represent the political interests of these self-employed without personnel. About 30,000 members of the United Service Trade Union in Germany (ver.di) are self-employed. Ver.di therefore draws on many years of experience in this field. The article presents the findings of an online survey, in which 834 self-employed members of ver.di participated, mainly from arts and media-related professions, IT-services, consulting and healthcare professions. The focal point is the analysis of their occupational situation, their professional challenges and what they expect from their union. The majority of the respondents urge ver.di to engage stronger in the representation of the interests of self-employed members. First and foremost they demand to be recognised as having an equivalent status to employed members. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 614–620

Jörg Wiedemuth

Collective bargaining – a superfluous ritual? An inside view of a social conflict


Collective bargaining negotiations, at least those of which the general public are aware, are often viewed as surviving but empty rituals. Behind the scenes, however, these rituals prove to be a network of pre-determined forms of behaviour which are observed by both parties to the collective bargaining and which ensure both behavioural safety and predictability. In addition, the external and internal communication and decision-making structures of collective bargaining configure the basis for the social and economic conflict between the protagonists of wage earners and capital. They are based on fixed legal, social and economic frameworks which cannot be ignored without consequences. The article describes central essential organisational and social processes of collective bargaining and analyses their importance in shaping the democratic development of public opinion and compromise. It becomes clear that what is often dismissively described as ‘collective bargaining ritual’ is in fact highly functional and in no way pointless for the cooperative structure of collective bargaining autonomy. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2017, pp 621–626

Martin Kronauer

Social inequality, exclusion, and the rise of the political right


The article examines the links between social inequality and the rise of the political right in Germany and other countries. It is argued that growing inequalities and the dynamics of social exclusion on the labour market, in employment, in the welfare state and in the distribution of incomes and wealth, undermine social cohesion. The political right responds to it with nationalism and xenophobia. It thereby exploits a crisis of politics, evident in decades of subordination of political action to the supposed imperatives of the markets. The right presents the politics of an aggressive distinction between “us” and “them”, declaring “them” to be enemies. It distracts from the causes of growing social inequalities but nevertheless attracts followers, particularly from the working class. The article stresses the need for building a politically left counter-movement able to regain the capacity for political action. Such an opposition would have to address the dominance of markets and capital as the roots of growing inequality and exclusion. Finally, the article lists some discussion points which could lead in this direction. more... (in German) 


Issue 07/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 473-481

Oliver Bruttel, Arne Baumann, Ralf Himmelreicher

The statutory minimum wage in Germany: Structure, distribution and effects on employment


The article presents evidence on the number and structure of employees in the minimum and low-wage sector in Germany before and after the introduction of the statutory minimum wage on 1 January 2015. Changes in earnings are analysed on the basis of the Federal Statistical Office‘s Structure of Earnings Survey 2014 and Earnings Survey 2015. In addition, the article provides preliminary evidence on the employment effects of the minimum wage drawing on aggregate data compiled by the Federal Employment Agency and discusses the results of the first econometric studies on the topic. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 482–490

Mario Bossler, Ursula Jaenichen

Statutory minimum wage from the employers’ point of view


The article discusses characteristics of firms paying minimum wages and analyses pros and cons of the statutory minimum wage from the employers’ perspective. Challenges facing employers include minimum-wage induced personnel cost increases and the bureaucratic demands of tracking working hours. Results from the IAB-QUEST survey show that a frequent reaction of employers when addressing these challenges is a reduction of working hours. Additionally, 30 percent of firms paying a minimum wage report price increases in reaction to minimum-wage induced cost increases. Pros of the minimum wage could be an increased level of worker motivation or the regulation of the competition between firms. However, the largest proportion of employers does not confirm changes in worker motivation or in the competitive position of the firm as a result of the minimum wage. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 491–498

Toralf Pusch, Miriam Rehm

The German minimum wage: Effects on job quality and employees’ work satisfaction


The effects of minimum wage adjustments on job quality and job satisfaction have not been intensively investigated. Economic theory offers little guidance; the theory of compensating wage differentials and the high road/low road theory reach opposing conclusions regarding the relationship between the wage and job quality. However, more qualitative research shows that raising labour productivity is one of the major adjustment channels after minimum wage hikes. The authors investigate this relationship following the introduction of the German minimum wage using the PASS database of the IAB. The data covers the low-wage sector exceptionally well and includes detailed information on work organisation and employees’ satisfaction. Differences-in-differences estimations indicate that employees eligible for the minimum wage reported more motivational management styles, improved work atmosphere, and higher pay and job satisfaction (relative to a control group). Effects on the organisation of work seem to have been more limited in the short time frame between the introduction of the minimum wage and the interviews, but they indicate a higher work load. All in all, the results are not in line with compensating wage differentials but do lend some support to the high road/low road theory. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 499–506

Irene Dingeldey, Andreas Etling, Till Kathmann, Paul de Beer

Comparing the dynamics of low-wage and wage inequality in three countries: The importance of collective actors


Looking at the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, this article shows that the differing development of tariff systems in Europe is accompanied by different dynamics of low-wage employment and wage inequality. In doing so, the authors complement institutional explanations as emphasised in the literature with an analysis of the strategies of the social partners and the state. The results can be summarised as follows: In Austria with its stable and comprehensive tariff system, employers have only partly been able to enforce their aim of increased flexibility. However, in conjunction with a strategy of safeguarding jobs, unions have accepted moderate wage inequality and a moderate share of low-wage work. In the Netherlands, despite institutional stability unions have not been successful with their solidaristic wage policy because the government pushed ahead the relative lowering of lower wages. In Germany, unions have successfully fought for a statutory minimum wage, thus reducing wage inequality. However, in order to reduce the high share of low-wage earners, further measures to stabilise the tariff system seem to be necessary. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 507–514

Thorsten Schulten, Torsten Müller

Living wages – normative and economic reasons for an adequate minimum wage


Since the 1990s, ‘living wage initiatives’ have emerged around the globe, seeking to substantially increase minimum wages. While minimum wages are often set at a very low level—sometimes even below the subsistence level—the idea of a living wage is based on the assumption that everyone has the right to a wage which allows not only physical reproduction, but also enables participation in social and cultural life. Drawing on a historical account of the living wage concept, this article analyses recent living wage initiatives in the USA and the UK, and—based on the UK experience—explains different methodologies behind the calculation of living wages. Finally, the authors explore the extent to which the living wage concept might gain importance in the German debate. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 515–522

Hansjörg Herr

Minimum wages in a post-Keynesian paradigm


From a post-Keynesian point of view, the author argues that statutory minimum wages fulfil different functions in different countries. Firstly, they can give an orientation for the general wage development. Secondly, they can reduce wage dispersion from below. In order to stabilise wage development and support a nominal wage anchor, in both cases minimum wages should at least be increased according to medium-term productivity development and the desired inflation rate. If minimum wages compress the wage structure from below or prevent a large low-wage sector they contribute positively to aggregate demand and employment. Via different mechanisms minimum wages contribute to productivity increases and increase the chance of future prosperous development. In case of substantial compression of wages from below the structure of prices changes as well as the structure of consumption and production. Overall, minimum wages do not lead to negative macroeconomic employment effects, as sometimes expected. The opposite is the case. Minimum wages contribute to the stability of the economy and help to create or defend an inclusive society. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 523–532

Reinhard Bispinck

Minimum wages and collective bargaining – results from WSI low-wage monitoring


Since 2015, and for the first time in history, there has existed a statutory minimum wage in Germany. This is additional to the collectively agreed wages and salaries and several generally binding sectoral minimum wages. Based on the WSI’s low-wage-monitoring, this article analyses the interplay between these three instruments of wage setting. The majority of collectively agreed wages is by far above the minimum wage. In some sectors, the bargaining parties adopted the agreed wages before the statutory minimum wage was introduced. In some cases the structure of the lower wage grades was strongly compressed. It remains open which wage setting pattern will prevail in the different sectors: agreed wages well above the minimum wage, agreed wages near to the minimum wage or no active collective bargaining on low wages at all. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2017, pp 533-539

Claudia Weinkopf, Frederic Hüttenhoff

The minimum wage in the German meat processing industry


The German meat processing industry has long been known for its high share of precarious employment. In fact, the sector has seen a massive shift to workers employed by subcontracting companies. Most of the employees are posted workers from Eastern Europe, often working in deplorable conditions. Points of criticism are wage dumping of less than 5 € per hour, regular overtime as well as unjustified wage deductions for accommodation and work materials provided by the meat processing companies. Since 2013, after years of public pressure, there have been several initiatives to improve working conditions. The most important issue was the introduction of an industry-wide minimum wage in August 2014. Moreover, leading companies agreed upon additional improvements of working conditions – albeit solely on a voluntary basis. On 1 June 2017, the German Bundestag (lower house of the German parliament) agreed on several legal changes, which might substantially improve the working conditions in the meat processing sector. Based on interviews with industry representatives, the article describes the current status of the implementation of the industry-wide minimum wage and analyses remaining loopholes to circumvent minimum standards in practice. more... (in German) 

Issue 06/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 389–397

Waltraud Schelkle

Collapsing new constructions: Worlds and varieties of welfare capitalism


Research into the study of welfare capitalism has, to date, been concerned with a founding question of political economy, namely how can capitalism and democracy be combined? Ever since the publication of Esping-Andersen’s Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism in 1990, the answer to this question has been sought in the identification of ideal types of welfare states that support a class compromise. This article argues, first, that popular regime typologies have run their course as a research programme, notwithstanding their many achievements. The main reason for this lies in a simplistic notion of the relationship between politics and economics in modern society. Secondly, the article outlines an alternative for analysing welfare provisions and their evolution, drawing on insights from the new politics and the new economics of welfare. This framework suggests a different question for the political economy of welfare, namely how can capitalism and democracy be kept distinct? more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 398–408

Cecilia Bruzelius, Constantin Reinprecht, Martin Seeleib-Kaiser

Stratified social rights limiting EU citizenship


Differences in the economic development and national social protection systems of member states can translate into significant differences in the substantive social rights of EU migrant citizens. The substantive rights of economically inactive EU migrant citizens are dependent on the ‘export’ of social rights from their country of origin to the member state of destination, in particular during the initial phase of their residence in a new member state as a jobseeker or a pensioner. This article demonstrates that the social rights of EU citizens are substantively stratified, not only by their economic status, but also according to the member states of origin and destination. Stratified social rights, it is argued, generate unequal opportunities to free movement and eo ipso challenge the very concept of EU citizenship. The article concludes with a proposal for a European Minimum Income Scheme to at least partially overcome the shortcomings of existing EU citizenship. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 409–420

Bettina Wagner, Anke Hassel

Moving to work or moving to stay? Mapping atypical labour migration into Germany


Germany has become one of the major destination countries for labour migration within the European Union. The German government introduced temporary restrictions on labour migration after the first and second rounds of eastern enlargement in 2004 and 2007. These barriers had little impact on the overall volume of labour mobility. On the contrary, they were accompanied by new “atypical” forms of mobility through the posting of workers, self-employment and seasonal workers, which according to EU rules are covered only by a minimum of host country regulations. The combination of temporary restrictions on regular migration and the opportunities created through atypical mobility were strong incentives for companies to engage in ‘regime shopping’ strategies. This contributed to a considerable growth in outsourcing and subcontracting, whereby the flexible use of external labour added to the pre-existing dynamics of low-wage competition, segmentation and fragmentation in the lower wage segment of the German labour market. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 421–431

Malte Lübker, Thorsten Schulten

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report – 2016/2017


The latest European Collective Bargaining Report of the WSI gives an overview of recent trends and wage developments in the European Union for the years 2016 and 2017. It analyses the development of collectively agreed and effective wages against the background of the general economic conditions in Europe. Despite a generally favourable economic environment and decreasing unemployment rates, wage growth has remained sluggish across most of Europe. To stabilise the economic recovery, not only the European trade unions, but more and more also the European institutions – among them, in particular, the European Central Bank – have argued in favour of more dynamic wage growth. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 432–441

Hermann Groß, Hartmut Seifert

Regulated flexibility – Regulatory framework of working time accounts


This article examines the regulatory framework of company-based agreements on working time accounts. Based on roughly 600 agreements, the empirical study shows that working time accounts primarily serve the objective of giving companies better opportunities to match working time with volatile market demands. The agreements are also intended to offer employees a certain scope for relative time autonomy. All in all the agreements embrace a wide range of different regulations. More time flexibility goes along with a higher degree of regulations which can be characterised as regulated flexibility. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 442–451

Eva Ahlene, Mark Esteban Palomo, Kathrin Filipiak, Axel Hauser-Ditz, Manfred Wannöffel

Participation of works councils in further training of members– findings from a representative survey


Considering the complex challenges with which works councils are faced, building up specialised knowledge through specific qualifications has become more essential than ever, especially in the context of increasing digitalisation. However, despite explicit legal regulations in the Works Constitution Act, adequate qualification is not always guaranteed. There are various reasons, ranging from compatibility issues between the activities of the works council and vocational requirements, inadequate exemption thresholds, employers hampering the works councils, to restrictions due to family responsibilities of the individual works council member. This article identifies favourable and obstructing factors for the participation of works council members in training seminars by analysing a representative survey comprising more than 8,000 interviews. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 452–455

Wolfgang Lemb

Effective industrial policy – challenges, approaches, perspectives


Industry and industrial policy are once more ‘en vogue’. However, despite the positive picture and the successes of German industry on the world markets, the question arises as to how sustainable the German industrial model is in the face of the key challenges. In this discussion IG Metall orientates itself to the concept of ‘effective industrial policy’. That means that industrial production methods must be measured against their social benefits. At the focal point are the interests of the employees, stable employment relationships and good working conditions. This article examines what actions IG Metall considers to be required and where the greatest effects can be achieved. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 456–459

Claus Zanker

Mobile working – requirements and collective regulation. The example of Deutsche Telekom


As a consequence of the increasing mobility of work due to the use of notebooks, tablets and smart phones, employees have more options for self-determined work. But at the same time there are risks of a growing workload as a result of the permanent accessibility and the blurring of boundaries between the working and the private sphere. To open up the positive potentials of flexible work arrangements for both sides - employees and companies - Deutsche Telekom and ver.di have contracted a pioneering collective agreement on mobile working. This collective agreement sets the framework for mobile working at the Deutsche Telekom Group in Germany: it is principally based on voluntariness and has to be implemented in compliance with existing collective labour regulations in the company. The specific design of factors such as the extent of the availability of the employees, attendance time in the company as well as the subject of data privacy protection and vocational training, have to be part of a binding agreement between employer and works councils at the enterprise level. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2017, pp 460–461

Florian Blank

’And yet it moves’ – comments on the current political debates surrounding old-age pensions


Within the German debate on pension policies the general benefit level of pension insurance as a central adjustment screw has made a comeback. Political parties and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs have made proposals towards stabilising or increasing the benefit level. Such measures are necessary if pension benefits are to increase in line with wages again; they are also necessary for adequate incomes in old-age. However, based on the calculation of the general benefit level, the search for the exact “right” pension level is misleading. In addition, the question of financing pensions is a matter of political dispute: what price is acceptable for a strong public pension system? more... (in German) 

Issue 05/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 321–329

Steffen Jaksztat, Gesche Brandt, Susanne de Vogel, Kolja Briedis

Did they come to stay? Doctoral education and the transition to an academic career


How do formal doctoral contexts and doctorate conditions affect the career intentions of PhD holders and their actual employment chances in the academic field? According to social cognitive career theory, comprehensive opportunity and support structures during doctoral studies encourage career goals within the academic field. From a labor economics point of view, their outcomes are in turn important signals increasing the chances for employment in academia. Analyses are based on representative data from the DZHW PhD panel study. Findings of logistic regression analyses show that opportunity and support structures, especially those facilitating the integration into career networks, are closely related to the intention of pursuing a career in the academic field. Research-related productivity signals are associated with a higher likelihood of being employed in academia after graduation. In this regard, both structured doctoral programmes and research assistant positions provide conditions conducive to successful employment. In contrast, external doctorates reduce the chances for employment in the academic field. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 330–339

Stephanie Beyer, Nilgun Massih-Tehrani

The significance of study-related time spent abroad on the way to professorship – a comparison of three academic systems


In the context of the internationalisation of science and the increasing relevance of rankings, reforms of European academic systems are orienting towards the US model in particular. As a result, in the pursuance of a successful career in academia, increasing numbers of young European scholars are taking a visiting position at a foreign university – preferably at an elite university in the English speaking world. The relevance of study-related stays abroad depends on the national academic system as well as on the traditions within a given discipline. In this article the authors analyse visiting appointments of sociologists in Germany, France and the United States of America. The results make it clear that the relevance of stays abroad differs widely. Using network analysis the authors illustrate that stays abroad (in the career stage between gaining a PhD and the first tenured professorship) are of crucial importance in Germany whereas they do not play a significant role in France. US sociologists usually take a visiting position abroad after having achieved tenure. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 340–347

Nadine Bernhard, Justin J. W. Powell

Institutional permeability in education and science systems in Germany and France


This article analyses to what extent and in what way changing regulations in Germany and France from 2000 to 2013 have facilitated institutional permeability between vocational and higher education. The authors discuss the relevance of this topic for related questions of social mobility between and within vocational training, higher education, and science systems. Because higher education is prerequisite to accessing scientific careers, the level of permeability between vocational and higher education institutions also has implications for the social selectivity of science. The authors develop a multidimensional conception of permeability that comprises questions of access, recognition, organisational linkages, and learner diversity to explain how and to what extent, in these countries with contrasting education and science systems, permeability has been facilitated. Given the existing higher education structures, such regulative changes have more potential to affect developments – for example, to reduce social selectivity – in Germany than they do in France. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 348–355

Sandra Beaufaÿs, Andrea Löther

Prime occupational hazards: employment conditions and gender inequality in the academic labor market


The number of qualified researchers in fixed-term positions has been growing, while at the same time the number of professors has remained more or less stable. This mismatch is especially challenging in terms of gender relations. Changing career and working conditions affect women scientists to a much greater degree than their male colleagues. Based on quantitative and qualitative data, the article explores gender specific inequalities of employment conditions and the persistence of these inequalities in the German “Excellence Initiative”. This prestigious research funding programme is aimed at promoting gender equality and it does offer attractive working conditions for women scientists. However, women suffer disadvantages even in funded institutions because the employment conditions lead to unequal opportunities. The uncertain predictability of an academic career is one of the main reasons for leaving the scientific career track and it is women who are especially dissatisfied with this aspect. Thus, a critical appraisal of the employment policies of universities is necessary, especially in the context of the “Excellence Initiative”. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 356-363

Choni Flöther

Doctorate holders and the labour market outside academia: more than a “plan B”


In Germany the number of graduates as well as doctorate holders is growing. Outside academia doctorate holders are in high demand on the labour market, indicated by a very good occupational situation. For PhD. holders who want to work in research the private sector offers many opportunities, at least in those economic sectors that are R&D intensive. Given that the private sector offers attractive careers for this highly qualified group, the question arises whether academia is really able to attract the best researchers for a career inside academia. This article presents empirical research, based on large datasets of graduate surveys. As economic sectors differ to a high degree when it comes to work tasks and career opportunities, analysis is done separately for different fields of study that are associated with particular economic sectors. The results show that in many fields of study that are associated with sectors of high R&D intensity the best qualified doctorate holders are as likely to be occupied in the private R&D sector as in academia. Therefore academia is in high competition with private R&D when it comes to attracting the brightest researchers. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 364–371

Jan-Christoph Rogge

Comparing career paths and orientations in business corporations and academia – differentiation versus constriction?


After long years of fierce debate on the reform of academic career paths in Germany this article sums up the current state of academic careers in the country. The author compares and contrasts career paths and orientations in scientific institutions with those in business corporations. The study reveals that a differentiation of career paths is underway in the corporate sector, albeit tentatively, whereas the academic sector focuses more than ever on only one goal, namely obtaining a professorship. This difference in career paths is also reflected in the career orientations of the employees. In companies the author identifies three different types of orientations that can be interpreted as reactions to very different features of the structural changes in the business world. In academia, which is characterised by intense competition among a constantly growing number of academics for an almost stagnant number of permanent posts, three orientations can also be identified. However, they differ from the responses of their peers in business because they are based on subjective perceptions of the likelihood of career success under these conditions. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2017, pp 372–375

Andreas Keller

On the way to a ‘dream job in research’ – interim balance and perspectives


The employment conditions for scientists in German universities and research institutions, characterised by increasing numbers of fixed-term contracts with ever shorter durations, and the one-dimensionality of career paths focused exclusively on professorships, gave rise to the German Union for Education and Science starting the ‘dream job in research’ campaign in 2010. This article reports on the central demands, the various stages and future perspectives of the campaign. A partial success was demonstrated by the Law on Temporary Employment Contracts in Science (WissZeitVG) which came into force in 2016. However, transferring law into practice still remains a challenge. In addition, legislation and financial commitment on the part of the federal government are not sufficient; individual states must make full use of their creative leeway, and the universities and research institutions must commit themselves to creating better standards for employment conditions and the promotion of young scientists. It is not least a question of trade union scope and assertion whether future successes may be achieved. more... (in German)

Issue 04/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 237–247

Andreas Jansen

Wage differentials between east and west Germany and associated consequences regarding the harmonisation of the pension law


The article examines both the current state and past performance of the economic convergence process between east and west Germany with particular emphasis on the convergence of wages and salaries. In addition, the associated consequences regarding the harmonisation of the pension law between both areas are examined. The harmonisation planned by the German government is to be completed in 2025. The empirical analysis draws on the German Socio-Economic-Panel (GSOEP) and the Linked-Employer-Employee data (LIAB) and is mainly based on linear regression analysis. The results give some clear indications that the convergence process is not sufficiently advanced and, accordingly, that there is still a considerable wage gap between workers in east and west Germany – even when taking into account the most important factors influencing the convergence of wages and salaries. Thus, on average, a complete harmonisation of pension law would be to the disadvantage of employees in east Germany since their future pension entitlements will be systematically lower than that of employees in west Germany. Against this background, the articles examines whether the targeted harmonisation period is sufficient to finalise the process of wage convergence between east and west Germany, or whether the harmonisation period should be extended to give already implemented reform measures such as the national minimum wage or the strengthening of collective bargaining the chance to become fully effective. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 248–258

Martin Brussig, Dominik Postels, Lina Zink

Low pensions despite long periods of insurance: An empirical analysis of risk factors


Based on combined data from the German Pension Insurance Fund and the Federal Employment Agency (BASiD 2007) we analyse factors which increase the risk of receiving a low pension despite long periods of insurance. We define a low pension as being a pension entitlement which is not more than 10 percent above subsistence level. In this study, on the basis of process data, the effects of low wages on the one hand and low working hours on the other are analysed separately for the first time. The results confirm previous studies on risk factors for pension entitlements by showing that long periods of contribution in employment subject to social security contributions and high incomes decrease the risk of receiving a low pension. Long working hours have a positive effect on pension entitlements independent of hourly wages. The results also show how important redistributive rules within pension insurance law are. For instance, times of unemployment affect the risk of a low pension less when they are covered in the insurance record through receipt of unemployment benefit. To prevent low pensions, it is therefore necessary to strengthen both employment participation as a proactive element and redistribution in the pension insurance as a retroactive one. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 248–258

Sebastian Schief, Ivo Staub

Economy – Austerity – Democracy. On the interrelation between austerity measures and satisfaction with the functioning of democracy in Europe


The political handling of the financial and economic crisis presents the European nation-states with considerable challenges.. Measures to counter the effects of the crisis as well as the political process leading to those measures may have unintended consequences for the political order. This article examines the question of whether there is an interconnection between governmental austerity measures and the degree of satisfaction with the functioning of the democracy of a country. This satisfaction is important for the legitimacy of democracy. The results of a multilevel analysis show that austerity has a negative impact on the satisfaction of the people with the functioning of democracy. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 269–277

Jennie Auffenberg, Nick Krachler

Work intensification in the health sector: Examining the determinants of successful personnel allocation strategies in Germany and the USA


Trade unions in the German and U.S hospital sectors are facing increasing marketisation leading to work intensification for employees. Mandatory staffing levels can moderate this trend. Drawing on a combination of organising and social movement unionism, the United Services Union ver.di at the Charité Berlin, as well as the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) in several New York City hospitals, successfully concluded a collective agreement regulating staffing levels and implementing measures to limit work overload for nurses. Against the background of traditional industrial relations theories, those parallels are surprising. Instead of macro institutional theories, the authors use actor-centered approaches that focus on the local organisational level, power-resources and opportunity structures to explain the similar strategy choices. The paper shows how ver.di at the Charité Berlin and NYSNA successfully took steps independently of each other to limit the effect of marketisation on work intensification, by building up their organisational power, drawing on resources from local, political, media and other civil society actors, and framing their conflict in socio-political terms. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 278–286

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective bargaining and works councils: data on coverage and development from the IAB establishment panel 2016


In this article we present the dispersion of collective bargaining agreements according to firm size, industries and federal states using the latest data from the IAB establishment panel. In 2016 about 51% of the workforce in west and 36% in east Germany were employed in firms bound to collective agreements. Since the beginning of data collecting in 1996 coverage has distinctly declined, although during recent years the development has been less clear cut. An examination of co-determination at the plant level reveals that coverage by works councils had hardly changed since 2015, with 43% of the workforce in the private sector of west Germany and 34% in east Germany. However, over a longer period of time a distinct downward movement is also apparent here. Since 2004 data on alternative means of representation has been available but those facilities are far less stable than works councils. Examining both levels of employee participation, we mainly address the extensive representation gaps relating to co-determination on the shop floor and also those areas with no collective agreement at all. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 287–295

Wenzel Matiaske, Tanja Schmidt, Hartmut Seifert, Verena Tobsch

Working time mismatches reduce levels of employees΄ work and health satisfaction


This article is based on a study investigating the impact of working time mismatches, which are defined as the difference between desired and actual working hours, on dimensions of work-life-balance. Based on a theoretical stress model the empirical study shows by means of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) that working time discrepancies have a negative impact on job and health satisfaction for employees. Furthermore, the article discusses implications for research and social policy regarding over- and underemployment. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 296-300

Christiane Benner, Fessum Ghirmazion

Members of the IG Metall with migration backgrounds – Trade unions and the working world as pioneers for integration


The IG Metall (metalworkers’ union) is a mirror of society – this was the conclusion made following a current study carried out by the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM). IG Metall requested scientists at the institute to examine the membership structure of the trade union. The representative survey that was carried out revealed that IG Metall is successful in addressing employees and achieving common objectives independent of their country of origin. In addition, there are above-average numbers of members with migration backgrounds in many elective posts. This high level of participation in operational and trade union representation contradicts a number of scientific publications claiming the opposite is true. On the whole the IG Metall proves itself to be a strong example of successful integration. Where participation is legally guaranteed and effectively carried out, emancipation is possible. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2017, pp. 301–303

Rainer Müller, Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, Joachim Larisch

Plea for a German nationwide research and action programme on “Public health and the humanisation of work”


The demand for public health and the corresponding work and employment conditions are indispensable to politically sustainable social development. In view of the major social trends, both the European Commission and the German Parliament appeal for innovative and preventative approaches in these areas. However, in Germany there is a need for a national framework to develop the new levels of cooperation and competence necessary for truly innovative, interdisciplinary research into health and work in order to develop a research and action programme “Public health and the humanisation of work”. more... (in German) 


Issue 03/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 173-179

Florian Blank

Upswing with obstacles–professional care work in Germany


Recent years have witnessed an increase in professional care work in the fields of child care and care of the elderly. Care work has shifted from households to other sectors of welfare production and is now provided by employees of public, profit or non-profit organisations. This article analyses the two policy areas. The author pays special attention to the fact that developments in both fields are heavily influenced by public intervention and that different rationales for shifting care work from households to professional providers exist. While the development in child care services follows a social investment approach, care of the elderly policies follow a more traditional approach to social policy; in the latter area domestic care plays an important role while the further development of professional care work is not the explicit intention of political actors. Referring to these conditions, the article identifies challenges for the future development of social services. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 180-188

Michaela Evans, Stefan Kerber-Clasen

Industrial relations in the field of care work: revaluation obstructed?


Although the social and economic importance of care work is growing rapidly in Germany, employment in the care sector is becoming increasingly precarious and working conditions are frequently described as deteriorating, thus leading to a crisis in care work. Despite these developments the governance of care work is rarely addressed in studies relating to the care sector or in industrial relations research. Taking care of the elderly and child care as two important examples of care work, the paper analyses industrial relations and the governance of care in these fields: Can they contribute towards increasing the appreciation of employees? It is argued that the specific institutions regulating work and employment in that sector hinder the joint communication, negotiation and realisation of interests of organisations within the care sector and they challenge the established policies of unions, thus leading to new and intensified conflicts between unions and employers. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 189-196

Wolfgang Schroeder

Care of the elderly: between state interventionism, market, and self-organisation


Socio-economic structural change has promoted a marked increase in female-dominated care work in the area of care of the elderly. Paradoxically, care of the elderly is characterised by simultaneity between a traditional notion of help and modern economic logic. On the one hand, care of the elderly is shaped by competition-oriented labour market actors. But on the other hand, there is only a rudimentary system of self-organised, confident collective actors among the employees. What hinders employees in care of the elderly – for instance in comparison to employees in nursery schools – from taking advantage of works councils, or seeking trade union interest representation to achieve a stronger level of self-organisation? The central argument of this article is that the existing main focus on the state by employers and employees is seen as a threat to a necessary strategy of self-organisation. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 197-204

Lena Hipp, Nadiya Kelle, Lydia-Maria Ouart

Working time in the social service sector in a cross-country and inter-occupational comparison


By analysing data from the 2014 European Labour Force Survey (EU LFS), the paper examines the incidence of part-time work and underemployment in the social service sector. The authors distinguish between high and low-skilled workers in education and child care on the one hand and in health care and care of the elderly on the other. In most of the 19 countries examined, the prevalence of part-time work among employees in personal and social service jobs is higher than among employees in other occupations. In addition, care workers work fewer hours per week than the average number of hours worked by employees in other occupations. While low-skilled workers in care jobs wish to increase their weekly hours of work, high-skilled care workers and those working in education do not. The authors discuss their findings in the light of the current challenges facing the welfare state, particularly to skills shortages and to the anticipated movement of labour away from care jobs. In order to avoid undesirable effects, new concepts of working time and payment are required which guarantee appropriate social standards. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 205-210

Susanne Eva Schulz

Working in hospitals: How employees deal with economization


As a result of reforms in the German system of inpatient health care, in particular through the implementation of diagnosis-related groups there has been an economization of the system. The consequences have affected the employees and their working conditions. Moreover, economization has led to a potential conflict between economic and job-specific logic of action. Since its beginning, some time has passed and the changes that have taken place have become normality in health care. This paper focuses on the question of how employees in the hospitals deal with their working conditions and different action impulses, more than a decade after the reforms. Based on qualitative interview data, three practices among physicians and nurses can be reconstructed: the balancing between advantages and disadvantages, the interest in an economically stable environment and the utilisation of internal and external resources by the employees. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 211-217

Dorothea Voss

The demand for labor and skills in elderly care and early childhood education


The high demand for professional workers in elderly care service provision and early education of young children leads to the question, how the supply of care workers and the quality of work can be guaranteed in the future. Based on finished as well as ongoing research projects funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation the article describes the status quo of employment in the fields of elderly care and early childhood education and the structure of employees’ qualification. Furthermore it presents four strategies how employees can be integrated into or kept in this segment of the labour market and how they could enhance their position and skills. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 218-220

Sylvia Bühler

Market and profit orientation in the social sector: effects on working conditions and the quality of services from a trade union perspective


Market mechanisms and commercialisation in the social sector have serious effects for all people - not only the employees engaged in providing professional care. Although many consequences are recognisable as misguided developments, the marketisation in the social and health sectors continues. Taking the example of care of the elderly, this article discusses the effects of privatisation and commercialisation on the level of care for dependent persons and the working conditions of the employees from the viewpoint of the trade union ver.di. Not least the question of minimum wage and tariff policy is taken into consideration. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2017, pp. 221-223

Joss Steinke, Benjamin Fehrecke-Harpke

Social services as a “safe haven” for good employment


Lack of skilled workers, low wages, tough working conditions and overwork are frequently the central themes of debates focusing on social services. At the same time there is agreement that image and a culture of recognition have an important role to play. This article addresses these points and underlines the fact that social services enable secure, sustainable employment which is also independent of economic conditions – also in the changing world of digitalisation. The social sector can develop employment policy effects if the appropriate framework conditions are created. more... (in German) 

Issue 02/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 89-97

Ralf Kopp, Michael Schwarz

Industry 4.0 from the perspective of social innovation


In this article, the debate on Industry 4.0 is critically examined from a research perspective oriented towards social innovation. We try to confront the exaggerated claims of its proponents in terms of inevitability, scope, relevance and promises of performance, and call attention to the risks of overvaluing such technology-centric views. In the meantime the thereby emerging discourse on Work 4.0 has developed a momentum of its own and tries to set its own trends by broadening the narrow focus on manufactories and by increasingly stressing the social interests and societal claims in the context of digitalisation. In this discourse, socio-technical basic approaches for designing digital workplaces are developed further, and governance processes mobilising civil society are expedited, though without being able to reduce the dominance of the digital agenda set by Industry 4.0. Social innovation includes participatory forms of designing workplaces and technology, but also goes beyond the concept of Industry 4.0 by granting the opportunity to analyse and design processes of transformation in terms of an intentional reconfiguration of social practices. Based on that, there is an urgent need for further development of existing governance models of digital transformation that put more focus on social innovation and thereby bring the question of how to deal with digitality on a creative and need-oriented basis more into the spotlight. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 98-107

Irene Becker

Objections to the concept of relative poverty – justified or misleading?


In this article widespread objections to the concept of relative poverty are addressed and discussed against the background of historical-geographical contexts of statistical measures. A fundamental criticism refers to the abstraction of the level of prosperity. It does not, however, focus on methodological aspects but rather on poverty in the sense of exclusion and is therefore based on normative reasoning: understanding and analysing poverty as social exclusion is not accepted. Rather the focus is on some kind of absolute poverty which remains vague while the concept of relative income poverty refers to standards but also requirements in developed societies. Further criticism is aimed directly at the indicators and their inaccuracies, which mainly result from one dimensional measurement. However, as that lack of precision has effects in two directions with compensating tendencies, the one sided argumentation is misleading. On the other hand, some objections to transforming the concept of relative income poverty to indicators should be discussed and investigated. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 108-116

Jutta Schmitz, Lina Zink

Paid work beyond retirement age: Initial findings at company level


Within recent decades, the gainful employment of persons beyond the age of retirement has grown considerably. Individual motives as well as the interests of companies drive this growth. For that reason, we describe the quantitative characteristics of employment beyond retirement age at company level first. The analysis of microcensus data shows that retirees tend to be concentrated in the area of mini jobs and often work just a few hours per week, and carry out low-skilled tasks. We then analyse the perspective of the companies from a human resources position in an explorative way and focus on the results from five qualitative case studies to point out possible reasons for companies to employ pensioners.. On the one hand, within the given companies, working retirees are used to close staffing gaps (short- or long-term). In this function, retirees are cost-effective, since they are over-qualified for most of their jobs but fulfil them for low wages in flexible work arrangements. On the other hand, the observed firms try to obtain (firm-) specific knowledge by retaining seniors beyond retirement age. Nevertheless, the employment of retirees can only be a short-term solution and not a sustainable long-term strategy. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 117-126

Claudia Groß, Karina Becker

Work in direct selling: Gainful employment with precarious consequences


Although the direct--selling industry is flourishing and it is expected that the number of direct sellers in Germany will increase to the 1 million mark by 2019, we know little about the often harsh working conditions of the mostly female workforce. Without any workforce representation, direct sellers work under often precarious conditions and are subjected to the rules and standards of internationally operating multi-nationals. Direct sellers are so-called ‘dependent self-employed’ workers: although they are self-employed, they are neither independent of a company nor are they as integrated into a company as employees. In our article we contribute to a better understanding of this form of employment. By examining the case of Tupperware, we elaborate on the tensions inherent in this form of employment, propose ideas for labour market policies, and offer suggestions for further research. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 127-134

Reinhard Bispinck, WSI-Tarifarchiv

2016 annual report on collective bargaining: Significant increases in real wages and minimum wages


The collective bargaining process 2016 was less conflictual than in the previous year. Overall, the DGB unions in Germany negotiated wage and salary agreements for about 11 million employees in 2016. The wage agreements were below the level of the previous year. The duration of the agreements was almost two years (22.8 months). This resulted in an overall annual increase in nominal wage rates of an average of 2.4 percent. This annual increase was above the amount of cost-neutral scope for nominal pay growth, defined as the increase of the consumer prices plus the productivity growth. The basic agreed pay in real terms rose on aggregate by 1.9 percent. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 135-141

Thorsten Schulten

WSI report on minimum wages 2017 – High increases in Europe


The WSI Report on Minimum Wages 2017 gives an overview of the current developments in minimum wages in 37 European and non-European countries. Drawing on the WSI Minimum Wage Database the report provides current data on the level and development of statutory minimum wages. In 2016 minimum wages grew even faster than in the previous years and reinforce the trend towards more dynamic minimum wage developments in Europe. As in many countries, the level of minimum wages is still rather low, more expansive minimum wage increases will continue to be on the political agenda. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 142-148

Martin Behrens, Wolfram Brehmer, Barbara Zimmer

Trade unions and migration


How high is union density among migrant workers and what are the factors influencing the likelihood of employees from a migrant background joining a union? As the analysis of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) 2011 reveals, union density among migrant workers is slightly below the level of workers without migrant background; within the group of persons with indirect migration background (i.e. persons who grew up in Germany) even this moderate difference disappears. Also, as results of multivariate statistical analysis reveal, there are only marginal differences between factors influencing the likelihood of workers joining a union. One difference, however, is striking: while union membership within the group of persons without migration background is associated with their support of parties on the left of the party spectrum, their counterparts with migrant background are also more inclined to be a union member if they support centre-right parties such as CDU, CSU and FDP. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 155-157

Andreas Boes

Qualifications for work in the global information space


The current change in the world of work rests upon a new quality of digitalisation. With the emergence and spread of “information space”, a leap in productive forces is occurring that involves fundamentally new skill requirements for the employees. The core competency necessary for people in the digital age is to turn data into information, to process this information and to feed it into networks beyond the boundaries of silos. To acquire this competency, which could be named “communicative expertise”, the employees are required to rethink themselves and to make changes to their professional identity. Skill formation and qualification thus turns into a strategic investment with the goal of taking people forward in the process of the digital transformation. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2017, pp. 158-160

Gerhard Bosch

Further education 4.0 – how can it be financed?


The digitalisation of work, the raising of the retirement age and gaps in employment histories are increasingly requiring career changes over the course of the working life. This is emphasised in all studies of the ‘future of work’. The German youth-oriented education and training system is not prepared for this challenge. The paper outlines and evaluates the various proposals for improving the funding of further training. Measures that can be implemented at short notice include the introduction of financial support for adults undergoing further education or training and a shift of emphasis in labour market policy towards investment, to which an active career development advisory service can make a significant contribution. more... (in German) 



Issue 01/2017

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 5-15

Hartmut Seifert

How to explain development and structure of forms of atypical employment?


The paper discusses the question, which driving forces are decisive for the development of forms of atypical employment. In a first step it describes long-term developments of part-time, marginal and fixed-term employment and temp agency work. Subsequently, it measures some arguments, submitted in the academic discourse, which are considered important for the explanation of the increase of atypical employment. It can be shown that macro arguments like tertiarisation or increasing labour market participation of women are not sufficient as long as micro aspects (e. g. arguments based on transaction cost economics) remain neglected. Furthermore, it has to be taken into account that the need of companies for more flexible staffing arrangements differs very much among the industries. Lastly, it is also necessary to include supply-side arguments like different time preferences of the employees as well as specific demand and supply relations on partial labour markets. Summing up, the author pleads for further theoretical efforts which should overcome monocausal explanations, combine different dimensions, and aim at a comprehensive model that is able to integrate atypical employment into the superior context of flexible work. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 16-26

Carina Sperber, Ulrich Walwei

Drivers of changes in work arrangements: who has what job?


A long-term trend towards nonstandard work arrangements such as part-time employment, marginal jobs and fixed-term contracts can be observed. There is not a single explanation for this trend but rather several factors which might be responsible for change. We choose the perspective of employees in order to analyse individual determinants for different types of work arrangements and their change in importance over time. The results suggest that particular factors have driven each employment relationship. In the case of part-time employment subject to social security contributions the family component dominates. For marginal jobs low education as well as low qualification is decisive. Fixed-term contracts are more concentrated amongst young workers. It remains to be seen how far workers have selected themselves into the different types of employment or how far they were driven by market forces. In this context we cannot verify whether employees choose these work arrangements knowingly or involuntarily. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 27-35

Berndt Keller

Interest representation for atypical employment relationships – a strategic dilemma


The paper deals with various problems of the representation of interest for employees in atypical employment a strategic dilemma for trade unions and works councils. First, general requirements and conditions of their activities are discussed, including the fact that atypical employees normally show low rates of unionisation and are underrepresented in works councils. Next, the focus is on the policy options of trade unions, differentiating between the traditional arena of collective bargaining and political lobbying. It becomes apparent that the unions addressed the interests of those in atypical employment comparatively late and only after controversial discussions, and that their achievements in (collective bargaining) politics are still rare – except regarding the minimum wage issue. At the corporate level, which is subsequently analysed, it becomes clear that works councils focus on the interests of the core workforce, not least as a consequence of their limited resources. The summary and outlook underline that further efforts are possible, but they demand sensitivity, persistence, and patience. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 36-44

Renate Neubäumer

The significance of non-wage costs for non-standard employment from employers’ and employees’ perspectives


The article provides a theoretical analysis to explain the spread of temporary work and fixed-term employment with non-wage costs in firms, and search and mobility costs incurred by employees. On the one hand, firms use non-standard forms of employment for “screening on the job”. Thereby, they are able to reduce both selection costs and costs due to the non-suitability of employees. On the other hand, firms can gain extra flexibility by employing temporary workers and by concluding fixed-term contracts. In this way, they can reduce their workforce in the event of severe demand fluctuations or permanent demand reductions, without having to pay dismissal costs. By contrast, workers do not aim at non-standard employment relationships as this means more insecurity on the employment market. However, they are more likely to accept such jobs the higher the search costs are in the form of the loss of income or the loss of human capital. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 45-53

Christian Hohendanner, Philipp Ramos Lobato

The personnel policy funktion of fix-term employment in the public sector


The public sector has long been regarded as a model employer. However, when one looks at the rate of fixed-term employment contracts, a continual erosion of this erstwhile role model status becomes apparent. Proportionally, public-sector employers hire new employees on fixed-term contracts much more frequently, and are less likely to transfer them to permanent contracts, than private sector employers. Against this backdrop, this article sheds light on public-sector employers’ practices and motives with regard to using fixed-term contracts. It then makes a comparison with the situation in the private sector. Based on data from the IAB Establishment Panel as well as from qualitative expert interviews with human resources managers and members of personnel boards in selected public sector organisations, it becomes clear that the public sector’s aforementioned discrepancy in relation to the private sector is mainly due to the specific operational function which fixed-term employment contracts offer. Here, using fixed-term contracts is the core instrument for creating flexibility; whereas in the private sector, additional instruments are available to manage headcount. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 54-61

Karin Schulze Buschoff, Wieteke Conen, Joop Schippers

Is solo self-employment a precarious form of employment?


In a comparison between the Netherlands and Germany, parallels can be identified in the structure of solo self-employment regarding the branches, level of qualification, share of women, age distribution and job satisfaction. Respondents in Germany indicate “push“ factors as motives for self-employment more often than respondents in the Netherlands, which means that the formation of a company more frequently occurs “out of necessity“. In Germany the proportion of “precarious“ solo self-employed is larger than in the Netherlands while the proportion of “economically successful“ and “secure“ is deemed smaller. The larger share of precarious solo self-employed in Germany could be due to differences in the wage structure and the social security schemes. Social security, measured by the access to and the benefits of social security schemes, is much more comprehensive in the Netherlands than in Germany. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 62-69

Werner Eichhorst, Verena Tobsch

Atypical employment in Europe


Atypical employment has grown in many European countries in the last decade. At the same time however, there are considerable differences apparent regarding the share of the atypical employment both between countries and between single forms of atypical employment contracts. This article examines the most recent development of atypical employment and tries to explain different profiles of the atypical employment in single EU member states. On the one hand, institutional factors such as the current regulation of atypical forms of employment and the role of collective bargaining as well as their change over time are taken into account. On the other hand, the influence of demand and supply on occupational skills and qualifications which determine the negotiating power of single groups on the labour market is discussed. In addition, subjective indicators of work quality are described and compared for different forms of employment. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2017, pp. 70-73

Nadine Absenger

The reform of temporary employment and work contracts: pleasing readjustments but many shortcomings, too


In Germany temporary agency work and the misuse of work contracts have increased to such an extent that the Federal Government felt compelled to initiate reforms in this sector. The readjustments will come into force on April 1, 2017. A number of these new legal limitations are welcome but overall they are not sufficient. Additionally, they fall short of stipulations in the coalition agreement and in former drafts of the Federal Ministry of Labour. The readjustments are only in a limited way appropriate to restoring temporary agency work to its core functions and to limiting abusive contract designs. more... (in German) 



Issue 08/2016


WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 573-583

Reinhard Bispinck, Anke Hassel, Thorsten Schulten

The 70th anniversary of the WSI – 70 years of labour-oriented research


In 2016 the Institute for Economic and Social Research (WSI) celebrates its 70th anniversary. The institute was founded under its former name Institute for Economic Research (WWI) immediately after the Second World War on the initiative of Viktor Agartz and Hans Böckler. This article gives an overview of the different periods in the history of the institute. Despite all the changes and developments there is also great continuity in certain fields of research which can be regarded as the core competences of the institute. Among them are, in particular, the areas of labour, social and collective bargaining policy. The WSI follows an approach of labour-oriented research, of which the fundamental aim is to contribute to the improvement of working and living conditions. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 584-594

Werner Nienhüser, David Peetz, Georgina Murray

Who owns the big corporations? The restructuring of ownership during the financial crisis in Germany and the U.S.


The ownership of large corporations constitutes social power. Therefore our article asks the question: Who are the owners of the 200 largest non-financial corporations in Germany and in the U.S.? Did ownership structure and concentration of capital change during the financial crisis? Our results for 2006/2007 and 2009/2010 show that financial investors such as BlackRock own a significant proportion of the stocks of the 200 large non-financial companies. BlackRock manages 5 % in Germany and 13 % in the U.S. Taking also the second largest asset manager (Capital Group) into account, then these two companies together control 11 % of the shares in Germany and 23 % in the U.S. In both countries the concentration of share ownership has increased. The large proportion of shares owned by finance capital has barely changed despite or because of the financial crisis. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 595-602

Katarzyna Haverkamp

When occupational choices do not meet labour market needs: mismatching in the German apprenticeship market


This article examines the recent changes in the career aspirations and vocational choices of German secondary school leavers. The results based on data of the School Graduate surveys 2005-2012 show that the interest of young people in knowledge-related service professions has increased, while the number of adolescents expressing an interest in production occupations has decreased significantly over time. It is argued that this shift in career aspirations of young people can be linked to the educational expansion which has led to a surge in the number of high-skilled graduates. These individuals express strong and mostly stable preferences for vocational training in knowledge-related service professions. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 603-612

Jan-Felix Schrape

Open-source software projects: from niche to mainstream


Based on a review and evaluation of market data, literature, documents and press releases, this article aims to provide a systematic overview of open-source communities and their socio-economic contexts. The investigations highlight the extent to which free and open-source software development projects today are dependent on the involvement of commercial companies. Over the past fifteen years open-source projects have become deeply entrenched in the information technology sector; they have been stripped of their subversive connotations and have become part of the innovation strategies of all established software providers. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 613-620

Dorothee Spannagel

Social mobility continues to decline. WSI report on income distribution 2016


Income distribution in Germany is increasingly solidifying. The annual WSI report on the distribution of income and wealth gives evidence that poverty and wealth are becoming increasingly permanent. The report analyses how income mobility has developed in western and eastern Germany since the early 1990s. The data shows that over recent decades, mobility between income classes has been declining markedly and this especially in eastern Germany. The wealthy can be increasingly sure that their high-level living conditions are going to last, whereas for those who are poor it is becoming increasingly difficult to overcome the deficits in their situation. Consequently, an increasing number of persons are being pushed to the margins of society. This development calls for a reinforcement of social mobility. Germany needs more redistribution through taxes and transfers and measures that are aimed at reducing long-term unemployment figures. The most urgent measure, however, is to decrease inequalities in the educational system. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 621-630

Thorsten Schulten

WSI European collective bargaining report 2015/2016


The current European Collective Bargaining Report of the WSI gives an overview on recent trends in wage developments in the European Union in the years 2015 and 2016. It analyses the development of collectively agreed and effected wages against the background of the general economic framework conditions in Europe. All in all wage developments were rather moderate and did not meet economic expectations. Against the background of rather weak economic development and the ongoing danger of deflation, not only the European trade unions but more and more also the European institutions – among them, in particular, the European Central Bank – are arguing in favour of higher wage developments in Europe. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 631-640

Reinhard Bahnmüller, Markus Hoppe

Ten years after – long-term effects of the new collective wage structure agreement in the metal and electrical industries in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region


More than ten years ago a new framework collective agreement on wage determination (Entgeltrahmentarifvertrag ERA) was implemented in the metal and electrical industries. This article provides information on the long-term effects of the reform for the region of Baden-Wuerttemberg (Germany). The results are based on a survey which included all firms covered by collective bargaining. Questionnaires were directed at representatives of works councils and personnel managers; supplemental data was taken from the annual earnings survey conducted by the employers’ association Südwestmetall. The results show that the ERA agreement has a formative influence on wage differentiation at company level and still fulfills its intended regulatory function. There has been no creeping internal erosion of the wage structure agreement observed so far. ERA provides extended possibilities for determining performance-related pay; however, they are hardly used. Target agreements with reference to ERA play a certain role only in combination with appraisal of performance. The agreed system change in workload allowance is widely accepted and shows positive effects on reducing of workload. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2016, pp. 641-645

Michael Bolte, Thomas Fischer, Rainald Thannisch

Co-determination offensive: overcoming the impasse in co-determination procedures


Our working world is undergoing a process of dramatic change and digitalisation, Europeanisation and economic globalisation are the core drivers of this change. For some time the legislative basis of co-determination has no longer been sufficient to meet these challenges. Both operational co-determination and corporate co-determination need updating. For this reason the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) and its member unions are going on the offensive and calling on policy makers to overcome the impasse in co-determination. more... (in German) 

Issue 07/2016

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 493–502

Knuth Tullius, Harald Wolf

Modern work ethic: today’s employees and their demands for justice and rationality


Most diagnoses of today’s society paint a picture of an inexorable rise of neo-liberalism and market ideology. At the level of economic actors and their orientations this supposedly corresponds with the supremacy of the general principle of an amoral homo economicus. But do non-economic values and norms such as solidarity or other elements of a "moral economy" really play a diminishing role in the action and interest orientations of employees at work as such diagnoses suggest? The article indicates that we cannot speak of such a triumph of homo economicus. On the contrary, our empirical evidence reveals the contours of a "modern work ethic" with very pronounced normative claims of workers for justice and rationality in organisations. However, to come into real effect, this moral economy requires strong forms of political advocacy and interest representation that has become, without doubt, more difficult in many workplaces today and threatens to become weaker. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 503–512

Stefanie Hürtgen, Stephan Voswinkel

Expectations of work and life – employees as social actors


Do employees want to have good working conditions – or do they demand them? The article argues that this makes a fundamental conceptual difference in the analysis of the orientation of employees and their self-constitution as social actors. Thus, we start with the distinction of “wishes” for and “expectations” of good working conditions. It is shown then that expectations made of work cannot be analysed without taking into account the biographical and social life; which are always and necessarily part of the demands made on work and life. At present, however, the self-confidence to make demands for good work has to be regarded as fundamentally unsettled, amongst those “normally” employed, i.e. in relatively stable employment. Yet, this uncertainty is not to be confused with the widely assumed internalisation of neoliberal invocations. It is precisely such internalisation that we do not find in the expectations of employees towards their work. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 513–520

Berthold Vogel, Andreas Pfeuffer

Looking at the work ethos – new perspectives on the sociology of public services


While the study of the sociology of work, for example in France, has a strong focus on the field of public services in transition, a similar preoccupation in the literature of German-speaking countries is only gradually getting off the ground. The article gives a brief overview of this literature and reconstructs the public sector as a working place of a "special quality", insofar as the welfare state of the postwar period created new statuses and positions, which went along with certain securities and guarantees for the new emerging educated middle classes, women and low-skilled workers. It served as a driving force for social integration as well as a normative model for the modern society based on the division of labour. Underpinned by results of a trinational research project on public administrations, postal services and hospitals in public ownership it is examined whether the challenge of this arrangement during the processes of privatisation, liberalisation and modernisation of the past two decades has transformed the specific ethos of the employees of the public services to a pure job mentality. It shows the persistence of a consciousness for the particularity of tasks in relation to the public weal, which surfaces in conflicts on recognition and appreciation. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 521–529

Barbara Heil, Martin Kuhlmann

“Them up there, we down here” - What workers think about work and the firm


What workers think about work and the firm, and working class consciousness in general has been a central topic in industrial sociology since the 1950s. In the earlier research a specific understanding of performance, as well as taking pride in the work done, perceptions of a corporate and societal dichotomy and an orientation towards collective representation were described as recurring elements of workers‘ consciousness. Based on recent publications and case studies we propose that there are important continuities. But, especially due to the increasing dualisation of working conditions and employment there are also elements of change, as for example, growing levels of insecurity which has even reached core workers. In the end, important general elements of working class thinking seem to be still in place although working conditions are different. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 530–539

Wolfgang Menz, Sarah Nies

Justice and Rrationality: motives for activation in industrial relations


Collective action, whether unionised or not, is usually not a mere result of structural inequalities but . It rather depends on the actual experience that the individual has of violations of the workers’ sense of justicejustice. Drawing on three empirical case studies of activation – in retail, in the IT sector and in public child care services – the article discusses different components of the workers’ sense of justicejustice and their impact on mobiliszation. In our case studies it is the assault on dignity, the violation of the meritocratic principle and the neglect of care responsibility which play the most significant roless infor activation. play the assault on dignity, the violation of the meritocratic principle and the neglect of care responsibility. However, our findings also show that the violation of workers’ ideas of rationality and functionality may also lead to discontent and protest. Regarding the evolvement of a broader social or political movement, conflicts involvingclaims for justicejustice tend towards stronger political generalisations than still are more promising, whereas activation based on the workers’ sense of rationality, which tends to remain within the limits of the particular conflicts at the firm level. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 540–546

Maria Dammayr Thomas Gegenhuber, Doris Graß, Herbert Altrichter, Brigitte Aulenbacher, Robert Bauer

Legitimate performance policy? Governance and justification in education, care for the elderly and the creative industries


Regulation by outputs, the creation of new markets, increasing performance demands on the individual – governance regimes are undergoing extensive change and re-shaping the context of work and performance. Based on three studies within the fields of education, care for the elderly and creative industries, this article addresses employees’ experiences in a changing work environment. This research identifies four comprehensive tendencies across the three fields: tensions due to contradictions between organisational expectations and the employees’ professional self-concepts, changing mechanisms of control and accountability, an increase in symbolic work, and simultaneously changing discourses and practices of professionalisation and de-professionalisation. We discuss how these transformations shape the three fields and how they influence individuals’ perception of just work and performance. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 547–551

Reiner Hoffmann, Thomas Fischer

Trade union design requirements of work in the future – considerations of the practice relevancy of research into work awareness


What are the current findings of research into work awareness on the standards used by employees to evaluate the value and recognition of their work? What constitutes “good work” from their point of view and what guidelines and challenges for the design of (digital) work in the future can be deduced by trade unions from this? The article addresses these questions. The scientific research into expectations of fairness is of particular relevance for trade unions as employees evaluate the reality and legitimacy of work regulations against these criteria. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 552-554

Friederike Bahl

Work and subject – challenges for a research tradition


This article reflects on the results of the research into workers’ consciousness in light of current empirical findings. For decades, the research into the experience of the workforce had been an integral part of the sociology of work. Its revitalization is facing two challenges: for one, it must show how the work experience and subject-oriented sociology contribute towards understanding social change. The other challenge lies in answering the question of how an analysis of work in regard to pluralisation and individualisation can contribute to social identity. Both questions implicate a revision of the research into workers’ consciousness – yet, we can expect good answers. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2016, pp 555–558

Michael Schumann

Work awareness and society revisited


The starting point for this article is the industrial-sociological studies of the post-war period where consciousness research into understanding work and employment was pursued not only from a scientific point of reference but also explicitly from the political interest in the knowledge gained: can cooperation in the reconstruction of Germany be expected from the industrial workforce, as accentuated by capital, or rather rejection and resistance? The results of this analysis indicated that the theory of the upward movement of the working class towards the middle class proved to be a premature claim. The class compromise remained fragile. And the observed critical distance to operational and corporate management relationships did not give grounds for any substantial perspective for structural change. The new research into the understanding of work and employment underlines that with all the differentiations of the real situation, there are common experiences which prevail: growing workloads, intensification, threats to health and safety, a fairness gap. In many sectors personal and social insecurity is apparent. There is a collapse of important aspects of legitimacy in the system which does not however result in legitimacy conflicts which threaten the system. This characterises an open situation which politically does not play into the hands of the progressive elements of the system, but rather the regressive. Clearly the right-wing populist organisations from Pergida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) to AfD (Alternative for Germany) are successful in taking the social problems out of the context of a progressive perspective and embedding them in the national question and reinterpreting the distribution struggle between “top” and “bottom” into “domestic” and “foreign”. The article closes with an attempt to analyse the conditions for this change of perspective. more... (in German) 


Issue 06/2016

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 409–416

Irene Dingeldey, Günter Warsewa

Towards a new labour regime?


The different modifications of the German employment and collective bargaining system during recent decades are discussed and patterns of institutional change are presented. The article also analyses the different adjustment reactions of collective and individual actors that have been identified to date. The most important reactions are the defence of existing rights, the reorganisation of power resources of collective actors, an increasing individualisation of professional careers and the development of a dual-earner family model to compensate for decreasing wages and insecure professional perspectives. As a central trend towards a new employment regime in Germany a bipolar heterogenization is outlined, which supposes the continuity of “old normalities” combined with social polarisation. An important feature is that social status will not depend only on education and employment, but increasingly becomes dependent on which family model is chosen. Finally, further requirements for political reform with a view to the modernisation of the standard employment relationship and liberal corporatism are discussed. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 417–425

Tabea Bromberg, Christine Slomka

White-collar workers in German industry: from the focus on contribution towards an employee identity?


The times when white-collar workers in German industry were a privileged minority are over. First, this is due to the fact that the groups of white and blue-collar workers in industry have now become equally large. Second, the distinction between white and blue-collar workers in social insurance and labour law and in important collective agreements has been removed. Furthermore, white-collar workers have increasingly become subject to restructuring, staff and cost cutting and the subsequent consequences. Therefore, the article examines the question of how these developments affect the interests of white-collar workers. In a sociological perspective we ask if white-collar workers maintain their traditional “focus on contribution” despite changing working conditions or if they develop a “new worker identity”. In addition to that we examine to what extent works councils can reach white-collar workers with the help of initiatives tailored to the needs and interests of this group. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 426–435

Christoph Seidel, Andre Meyer

Avoiding uncertainty or opportunistic: the internationalisation processes of SMEs


The article addresses the topic of the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We assume that in SMEs specific ‘social worlds’ are established that are fundamentally different to those in large enterprises. On the basis of case studies from the German machine industry and automotive supply industry, the effects these social worlds have on internationalisation processes in China is shown. It is argued that different constellations of organisational decision-making systems with different social worlds form specific constellations, which correlate with two typical processes of internationalisation: some companies are primarily concerned with avoiding risks during the internationalisation process, while others focus on taking opportunities. These typical internationalisation processes in turn have effects on the social world of the SME, in the long run leading to either a stronger integration or segregation. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 436–443

Stefan Schmalz, Brandon Sommer, Lea Schneidemesser

New labour conflicts in South China: the case of Yue Yuen


In April 2014, more than 40,000 workers halted production at Yue Yuen Gaobu, a Taiwanese shoemaker in the Pearl River Delta in South China, the so-called workshop of the world. The strike is an important event in a wave of industrial unrest in China. In these strikes, middle-aged and older migrant workers are demanding recognition of their rights to social security and pension insurance and thus are highlighting the limits of hyperflexible low wage-production in China. Drawing on in-depth field research in the Pearl River Delta, we analyse the development of the strike at Yue Yuen. We show that despite structural reasons (growing competitive pressures in the Pearl River Delta and the Chinese Communist Party’s anticorruption campaign) fear of precarity in retirement for middle-aged and older migrant workers is a major reason for the strike. We conclude that conflicts over social security payments will have a lasting effect on Chinese labour relations as social pressure is growing to provide better security for workers in the export industry. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 444–451

Reinhard Bispinck, WSI-Tarifarchiv

Interim report on collective bargaining – a mid-year balance of the 2016 pay round


In the collective bargaining round 2016 general pay increases agreed in the first six months of the year range from 2% to almost 3.0 % in most segments and for the next year agreed pay increases range from 1.5% to 2.5%. The average duration of the new pay agreements is 22.4 months. Calculated on an annual basis, the average increase of wages for 17.7 million employees based on collective agreements for 2016 will be around 2.5%, which is slightly below the average increase of 2.7% in 2015. In this year this will also mean a noticeable increase in real wages. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 452–459

Martin Behrens, Markus Helfen

The introduction of bargaining-free membership by German employers‘ associations


About 25 years ago, German employers associations began offering a so called „bargaining free” („OT“) membership status to their member companies. Based on the analysis of data from the survey “Wirtschaftsverbände in Deutschland 2012” this article provides initial empirical results on the diffusion of OT-membership. Up to 61% of those associations included in the survey offer their members the choice to switch to a bargaining free status. Within the group of associations, that offer OT, on average 48% of member companies take advantage of OT. In addition to the impact of variables indicating structural influences such as industry and size of the association, analysis also reveals that an association’s decision for or against OT membership is also strongly driven by how an association’s managing director perceives key aspects of multi-employer bargaining. A multi-variate analysis reveals that associations are more inclined to resist OT when they are dominated by small companies. In contrast, even when (statistically) controlling for other influences, the likelihood of introducing OT increases when the association’s director criticizes existing bargaining structures. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 460–470

Heinz-J. Bontrup

Reduction of working hours in the electricity industry


Since the liberalization of electricity markets and the energy transition occurred in the German electricity industry to a drastic downsizing. Every fourth jobs have been destroyed from 1998 until 2013. The article shows that this could have been avoided by a reduction of working hours with real wages.. The distribution of space from productivity and inflation rates were used but reality on one side for the benefit of capital. The wage rate has declined in the electricity sector 1998-2013 extremely 24.5 percentage points! In the December 2015 adopted energy and climate policy decisions of Paris will enable, the electricity sector, further the German energy industry as a whole but also in particular under a tremendous pressure to adapt. Without having to bring the human resources instrument of reducing working hours used now at the latest, there will be a further enormous destruction of jobs. The social partners are therefore now required to make an even distribution of remaining work in the framework of realized value creation. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 471–473

Clemens Fuest

Fiscal policy governance in the eurozone is in need of reform


There is no end to the crises in Europe. For almost seven years the debt crisis has been influencing economic development in the euro area. Last year the crisis in migration emerged and now Brexit has shaken the European Union (EU).Both the EU and the eurozone are in need of reform. This article discusses the state of the economic adjustments made after the outbreak of the financial crisis and explains the reform concept behind the accountability bond; a new class of government bond which is aimed at contributing to an improvement in fiscal governance in the eurozone. more... (in German) 

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2016, pp. 474–476

Stephan Schulmeister

Prosperity, depression and economic theories


Europe’s path towards the big crisis commenced 45 years ago. All the important stages resulted from the application of neo-liberal demands. This includes the unleashing of the financial markets (from the role of fixed exchange rates to “let your money work” as guiding principles), the “liberalisation” of employee protection, the reduction of wages and unemployment benefit and the weakening of the welfare state. The development is achieved in alternating steps: first a problem is created, then as a practical constraint the neo-liberal therapy is intensified. The therapists do not recognise that this is the actual ailment. more... (in German)


Issue 05/2016

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 325-333

Markus Promberger, Philipp. Ramos Lobato

Ten years of Hartz IV – a critical appraisal


More than ten years after the introduction of the basic social provision for jobseekers (SGB II) - the so-called Hartz-IV-reform, it has to be stated that its major goal of substantially reducing poverty and saving public budgets has not been achieved to the degree hoped for. Although the system addresses the demands of the needy with some success, and provides basic income support, there are still problems in the area of social and cultural participation. Moreover, the reform’s general “work first” strategy to solve the problem of poverty obviously contradicts the heterogeneity of the life circumstances of the clients. Remarkably, Hartz IV seems to work more towards increasing the negative effects of a flexible labour market rather than compensating for the social risks, even if some crucial questions have not been adequately researched to date. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 334-343

Torsten Lietzmann

Long-term unemployment and the receipt of welfare benefit: definitions, quantities, structures


In light of the ongoing high prevalence of long-term unemployment and welfare benefit receipt, this article draws a detailed picture of welfare recipients and long-term unemployed to supplement the information provided by official statistics. Not only looking at durations of (official) unemployment but at periods with and without gainful employment it can be shown that there is a polarisation of welfare recipients in terms of their past and current labour market participation. On the one hand, there are substantial numbers of recipients who are employed or whose last employment ended less than one year ago. On the other hand, there exists a significant group of recipients having had no employment experience in the last four years. Within the population of long-term benefit recipients two distinct groups can be identified: long-term recipients who are also long-term unemployed. This group consists of a disproportionally high share of older people with poor health. The other group of long-term recipients is not unemployed because its members are either employed or not available for the labour market. This group is made up mainly of recipients living in households with children. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 344-352

Bernhard Christoph

Basic social security benefits: material living conditions of recipients


When analysing the material living conditions of those receiving benefits according to the German Social Code II (SGB II - the so-called Unemployment Benefit II), the use of income as an indicator might not be unproblematic. First of all, the regulations of the SGB II itself will to a substantial extent predetermine benefit recipients’ income, which limits the information that might be gained by such analyses. Moreover, while both these factors should be highly important for the material living conditions of recipients, income-based measures will neither capture differences in households’ furnishings and equipment, nor will they reflect differences in their remaining resources. Therefore, by looking at consumption expenditure and a deprivation index in the tradition of Townsend the article uses two alternative approaches to analyse the material living conditions of benefit recipients. Most interestingly, both alternative methods unanimously indicate that while SGB-II-benefits should be sufficient to cover recipients’ basic needs, there are gaps in the provision of an adequate level of social and cultural participation. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 353-364

Andreas Klärner, Andre Knabe

Social networks as a resource for dealing with long-term unemployment


This article deals with the consequences of the transition from the caring to the activating welfare state, as pursued through the labour market reforms of the “Agenda 2010”. In the course of these reforms, long-term unemployed persons, in particular, were made responsible for their situation. Meeting exigencies of individual responsibility and activation requires compensatory action on the part of those concerned in order to replace public support that is withdrawn. In our article we examine the role of social networks in providing such compensation. For this purpose, we analyse 34 qualitative interviews with long-term unemployed persons from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the course of these interviews, data about social networks the interviewees were involved in were collected, and the role of these networks for coping with the consequences of long-term unemployment was studied. We conclude that such networks, although providing important resources for social support, should nevertheless not be overestimated: The opportunity to use such resources is strongly limited for many of the persons interviewed, and effective and reliable support is in many cases only available from institutional supporters. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 365-372

Andreas Hirseland

The perceived middle – recipients of basic social security provision and their precarious social self-location


The implementation of the Social Code II (SGB II - Hartz IV) in 2005 represents a fundamental reform in German social and labour market policy which has remained controversial until the present time. Critics see in the reform a contribution to a splitting of society and a reinforcement of poverty, both fostering tendencies towards the marginalisation and stigmatisation of welfare recipients. Based on qualitative data the article pursues the question of how far the feared social exclusion of welfare recipients is reflected in their perceptions. Drawing on interviews and data gathered by using the method of “graphic elicitation“ welfare recipients’ views of the society they live in and the ways they locate themselves within society are reconstructed. Many welfare recipients still make a claim to be considered as members of the middle class but are aware of the precarity of this self-classification. Thus they strongly seek to delineate themselves against those who they suspect to be members of a class below them. It is shown that recipients of basic social security provision frequently find themselves in an anomic social position. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 373-380

Karsten Paul, Andrea Zechmann, Klaus Moser

Psychological consequences of job loss and unemployment


The article reviews psychological research into the consequences of unemployment on mental health. According to this research, unemployed people report considerably lower levels of mental health than the employed. Longitudinal studies and natural experiments show that the high stress levels among unemployed people mainly result from unemployment itself. Selection effects (the experience of stress leads to job loss and delayed reemployment) also exist. Jahoda’s latent-deprivation model proposes a lack of so-called latent functions of employment (i.e., time structure, social contact, status, collective purpose, activity) as an explanation for the negative effects of stress experienced by unemployed people. The model has repeatedly been endorsed by empirical studies. In addition to that, personal and situational coping resources such as self-esteem and social support at least partially mitigate the negative effects of unemployment. Moreover, the negative effect of unemployment on mental health is moderated by duration of unemployment, socio-economic status, gender and age. At country level, the economic development and the generosity of the unemployment protection system also have a moderating effect on the impact of unemployment on the mental health of its citizens. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 381-385

Alfons Hollederer, Sven Voigtländer

Health and health-related behaviour amongst the unemployed


Based on the current state of research, unemployment goes hand in hand witha number of health impairments. However, there is a lack of knowledge in regard to the health behaviour of the unemployed. Data is drawn from the panel study “Labour Market and Social Security” (PASS), wave 6 (2012). Based on the SF12v2, unemployed men and women rate their mental and physical health levels, on average, more negatively than employed men and women. There are also significantly more unemployed persons than employed who report a hospital stay in the year before the interview. About two thirds of unemployed men and half of unemployed women smoke, with the proportion of smokers among the unemployed being double the proportion among the employed. On the other hand, unemployed persons more often state that they never consume alcohol. In comparison to the employed, there is a higher proportion of unemployed persons who never do sports, fitness training or work out at the gym. The analysis shows substantial disparities between unemployed and employed persons regarding health, hospitalisation periods as well as their health behavior. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 386-389

Uwe Beier, Antje Helbig

Social agency practice and the long-term unemployed


The article describes the work of a social agency in dealing with the long-term unemployed. Two projects are introduced from the centre for vocational training and qualification (Zentrum für Ausbildung und berufliche Qualifikation) in Oberhausen, which works with persons who have been unemployed for a longer time. In part the social milieu and close reference persons of the person concerned are also included in the study. The aim of the project is to identify what the needs are of the individuals who are recipients of long-term social benefits and how these can be addressed in the practical day-to-day work of the agency. more... (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2016, pp. 390-392

Wilhelm Adamy

Theory and practice of Hartz IV – an interim balance from a trade union perspective


The removal of unemployment benefit in favour of the basic provision for jobseekers (Hartz IV) has shifted the corner stones of the German social system. For those with a job the loss of employment now presents a much larger drop in their economic situation, with negative consequences for their mobility on the labour market. The reduced public funds available to recipients of the basic social benefits, structural problems with the organisation of job centres, limited opportunities for Hartz IV recipients on the labour market as well as their exclusion from pension insurance contributions makes them second-class unemployed individuals. It is necessary to strengthen the upstream systems, not least the unemployment insurance and, on the other side, substantiate and further develop the promotion of participation within the basic social provision. more... (in German)

Issue 04/2016

Martin Höpner

Revisiting the Social Progress Protocol of the European Trade Union Confederation

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 245-253


The Social Progress Protocol is a set of demands developed by the European Trade Union Confederation, formulated for the first time in 2008. It is a reaction to a set of European Court of Justice Decisions on the relationship between economic freedoms and social rights and demands a general primacy of social rights whenever they collide with economic freedoms. The article confirms that the ETUC demand goes in the right direction and suggests further improvement. The suggestion consists of two parts. First, the article proposes to ask for a change in the scope of the fundamental freedoms, rather than for a general primacy of social rights. Second, the article advises against making demands to create new Commission competencies in the field of labour law. In sum, the article is proposed an “Albany exception” that could be positioned in secondary rather than primary European law. more...(in German)

Marius R. Busemeyer, Janis Vossiek

“Mission impossible”? Establishing collective skill formation systems in England and Ireland

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 254–263


To many observers the diffusion of the model of dual training appears to be an appropriate step towards curtailing youth unemployment in Europe. In this article, we discuss to what extent attempts to promote dual vocational training structures have been successful in countries that do not have a well-established tradition of social partnership. Based on two case studies on England and Ireland, we show that developing dual apprenticeship institutions is possible, but that national political interests, particularly of governing parties, are central to this process. In England during the 1980s, the conservative Thatcher governments lastingly weakened the influence of trade unions on training. As a result, the subsequent attempts to develop a dual system of vocational training failed. In contrast, the case of Ireland shows that establishing such structures in a liberal economy is possible. Here coalition governments pursued a social partnership approach based on cooperation between employers and trade unions, which thus facilitated the basis for cooperation in the dual system of vocational training. more...(in German)

Vera Glassner, Susanne Pernicka, Nele Dittmar

„Institutional work“ on social conflict – a case study on the European Works Council of General Motors

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 264-272


In contrast to the advancements in the transnationalisation of markets lasting transnational action of trade unions has so far been the exception rather than the rule. The institutions of labour relations which might support employee representation have remained at a national level. This article investigates trade unions and European Works Councils in their role as institutional entrepreneurs who themselves participate in the creation and maintenance of transnational logics of action and norms of solidarity. Institutional work on the class conflict carried out by those involved in industrial relations aims at changing power relations between management and labour in transnational companies and production networks. By examining the case of General Motors Europe/GM-Opel, the specific conditions available to employees for such strategies over the course of time are identified. Although the recent economic crisis has led to an erosion of trust amongst employee representatives, we argue that common norms of solidarity have, at least in part, remained effective. more...(in Berman)

Agnieszka Piasna, Anke C. Plagnol

Job quality and women’s employment across the life course in Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 273-282


Numerous studies indicate that women’s employment decisions after childbirth are limited by personal circumstances, such as the need to contribute to the household income, and by institutional factors, such as the lack of affordable child care. Based on data from the European Working Conditions Survey, this article investigates how job quality affects female labour market attachment across life stages in 27 European countries. The analysis explores three dimensions of job quality: job security, quality of working time and intrinsic job quality. We find that mothers of young children are more likely to hold high quality jobs than women without dependent children, especially with respect to working time quality and job security. The results reveal that the association between job quality and having young children is largely similar across the EU-27. more...(in German)

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective bargaining and works councils: results from the IAB establishment panel 2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 283–291


In this article we present the dispersion of collective bargaining agreements according to firm size, industries and federal states using the latest data from the IAB establishment panel. According to this data, in 2015 about 51 percent of the workforce in west and 37 percent in east Germany are employed in firms that are bound to collective agreements. From the beginning of data collecting in 1996 up to the present time coverage has been distinctly declining, even though less pronounced during recent years. Looking at co-determination at the plant level we find that coverage by works councils has hardly changed since last year with 42 percent of the workforce in the private sector of West Germany and 33 percent in East Germany. However, in the long run a distinct downward movement is also apparent here. Examining both levels of employee participation together we mainly address the extensive gaps in co-determination on the shop-floor (betriebliche Vertretungslücken) as well as the completely blank spots in various branches of the economy where no collective agreements exist at all. more...(in German)

Gesine Stephan

Job seeking, but not (yet) unemployed: What happens after registering?

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 292-299


In Germany, individuals whose employment relationship terminates have to register as job seekers three months in advance or in the case of later knowledge within three days. As no control group exists, it is currently not possible to analyse the effectiveness of this measure. A different, but also interesting question is how long it takes for job seekers to become unemployed or to take-up a new job. For those registering as job seekers in November 2012 and July 2013 this paper shows that 90 days after registering 60 percent (November) and 40 percent (July) of individuals became unemployed. An early registration three months ahead of the end of the employment relationship would most likely be possible for previously permanent workers with long seniority (and thus longer periods of notice), as well as for temporary workers. Permanent employees with long seniority account for only a small proportion of job search registrations. Temporary workers, however, account for more than a third of all registrations. Of the latter, 40 percent are still working for their previous employer five months after registration. For them, early registration probably did not affect their labour market prospects, but was responsible for binding caseworker capacities. more...(in German)

Hartmut Seifert, Elke Holst, Wenzel Matiaske, Verena Tobsch

Working time preferences and their short-term implementation

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 300–308


In the debate on working time there have been recent new developments and various concepts of optional working hours have been in the discussion. This has been triggered by the large numbers of workers in Germany who wish to change their working hours so that the demands of non work-related activities or caring responsibilities can be brought into balance with the demands of work. While differences between actual and preferred working hours have been relatively well researched, little is known about the individual successes in adjusting real working time to desired hours of work over time. By means of longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), this article presents first empirical evidence and thus contributes towards closing this gap in research. Our findings indicate that more than two fifths of all employees who wish to change their weekly working time by at least five hours are able to achieve a real change of at least three hours in the short term. Most successful are those wishing to change their place of work and seeking to achieve bigger changes to their working time. more...(in German)

Torsten Müller

Collective bargaining coordination and the European Trade Union Confederation and in times of crisis

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2016, pp 309-312


In the context of the euro crisis, a new system of European economic governance began to emerge in 2010. This new system of economic governance provided the basis for a political coordination of national wage bargaining with the aim of ensuring competitive collective bargaining policy and moderate wage developments. Against this background, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) decided in October 2013 to implement an alternative model of an autonomous and demand-side oriented coordination of collective bargaining. This article reviews the development of this alternative approach in light of both the new political and economic framework as well as the changing dynamics within the ETUC. more...(in German)

Issue 03/2016

Werner Nienhüser, Esther Glück, Heiko Hoßfeld

Attitudes of workers toward co-determination – how much do experiences with co-determination matter?

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 161-171


One of the factors influencing the stability of codetermination within the workforce (at plant and company level) is how people evaluate codetermination. The article examines the attitudes of the working population in Germany towards co-determination and the extent to which experiences with co-determination and political socialisation affect these attitudes. The analysis is based on data taken from a telephone survey in Germany and concentrates on a subsample (n = 1,904) of the active workforce. The results show, first, that the majority of the respondents has a very positive attitude towards co-determination. Second, we find considerable differences in the attitudes: Above all, current and former works council members and unionised employees have a more positive attitude. In contrast, employers with five or more employees have a significantly less positive attitude and sometimes even a clearly negative attitude. In a political sense, our findings suggest giving as many employees as possible the opportunity to gain positive experiences in codetermination. more…(in German)

Peter Ellguth, Rainer Trinczek

Erosion of co-determination – What role does structural change play?

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 172–182


In recent years, a decline in collective bargaining has been observed in Germany, and in addition a decline in codetermination – the former stronghold of the German dual system of employment relations. While interest was previously focused on industry-level agreements, it has become clear that the institution of the works council is also losing in significance. This decline has taken place almost exclusively in medium-sized establishments where a works council is neither a rare exception nor a matter of fact. We analyse the decline of workers’ representation between 1998 and 2014 on the basis of data from the IAB Establishment Panel. Decomposition techniques are used to answer the question to what extent structural changes are responsible for the downward trend. The results show that only a small part of the decline can be explained by differences in establishment characteristics, such as branch composition. What becomes clear though is the great importance of collective bargaining agreements for the existence of a works council. more…(in German)

Ingrid Artus, Clemens Kraetsch, Silke Röbenack

Establishing works councils – typical phases, versions and problems

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 183–191


The establishment of a works council is a collective action based on exigent social premises. The process is typically organised in five sequences: the phase of informal interest representation is followed by a sequence of latency which contains the first steps of organising; the third sequence of public formation is the most important stage of interest mobilisation. The official vote for a works council then marks the beginning of the constitution era which (not always) passes over into a fifth phase of representation capacity. A qualitative study of 54 works council implementation processes also identified five typical patterns: the works council as a protector of the company community, as a promoter of individual interest bargaining, as a provider of leverage for collective emancipation, as a representation body for selective interests and of ‘blocked participation’. The question, whether in the end of an often changeful history the new works council is able to win effective representation capacities is decided by convincing core activists, the coherence of the workforce, the management attitude as well as by union support and/or assistance from the enterprise works council. more...(in German)

Nadine Absenger, Andreas Priebe

The Works Constitution Act in 2016 – co-determination gaps and the need for reform

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 192–200


Although the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG) assumes that a works council is elected in those companies with at least 5 employees, co-determination at the shop floor is being pushed into a defensive position: of those companies in Germany eligible for a works council, only one out of ten actually have one. Works councils are faced with significant challenges in areas such as economy, work organisation and changes in industrial law, as well as globalisation, flexibilisation and digitalisation. With current instruments of works constitution law, works councils are able to master these challenges only to a limited degree because of the lack of necessary co-determination rights. Legislation is thus challenged, through a reform of the Works Constitution Act to enable co-determination in a timely way, to promote the formation of works councils and to provide works councils with the necessary tools to make it possible within the company to contribute to the design of working conditions that is in the interests of the workforce and co-determination. more…(in German)

Helge Baumann, Wolfram Brehmer

The composition of works councils: results from the WSI works council survey 2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 201–210


The article describes the personnel composition of works councils‘ members using the representative WSI works council survey 2015. In addition to socio-demographic characteristics this survey allows us to investigate full-time works councils, their terms of office, their forms of employment and union density. The second step of this article involves comparing the characteristics of the members of the works councils with the personnel composition of the respective workforces. This comparison enables us to demonstrate which groups are under- or overrepresented in the works councils. Our findings suggest that whereas the level of educational attainment of works council members corresponds largely to that of the workforce, other characteristics are underrepresented in the works councils; women are less likely to be works council members than men. Employees with migrant backgrounds represent about 17% of the workforces, but only 8.5% of the works councils’ members. Temporary workers are underrepresented: the proportion of temporary workers on works councils represents only a tenth of the numbers of those employed. more…(in German)

Marc Amlinger, Reinhard Bispinck

Decentralisation of collective bargaining – analysis of data from the WSI works council survey 2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 211–222


The article analyses the process of the decentralisation of collective bargaining based on data from the WSI works council survey 2015. According to this study, the importance of collective bargaining as the central control instrument for setting work and pay conditions has declined. In 2015, 67% of firms with works councils were covered by collective agreements, equivalent to 82% of the workforce. This shows that compared to 2005 collective bargaining coverage declined by 5 percentage points, while the proportion of businesses, which are not subject to a collective agreement but use it as an orientation for setting wages and working conditions, is also declining. At the same time, according to works councils, opening and differentiation clauses are being used in every fifth establishment to deviate from agreed standards. In another 13% of establishments work councils report deviations from collective agreements which are not covered by such clauses. The study shows that the higher the union density, the lower the probability of such uncontrolled deviations is. Overall, the works councils have predominantly conflicting views on the decentralisation of collective bargaining or judge it to be generally a problematic trend. more…(in German)

Helge Baumann, Manuela Maschke

Company agreements 2015 – dissemination and topics

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2016, pp 223–232


The article describes the dissemination and the range of topics of German company agreements using the archive of company agreements of the Hans Böckler Foundation and the representative WSI works council survey 2015. In a first step we explain the characteristics of and requirements for company agreements and show their dissemination in Germany. Next we illustrate the range of topics of these agreements, including topics of works agreements concluded in 2014. Finally, we differentiate the distribution of topics according to size categories of industries and establishments. Our findings suggest that the bigger the establishment, the more agreements there are. There are also size effects regarding the topics addressed in codetermined establishments. While gender equality, overtime and data protection are regulated in small and large establishments, temporary work, teleworking, home working and target agreements are concluded mainly in large companies. more…(in German)

Issue 02/2016

Olaf Struck, Matthias Dütsch, Gesine Stephan

Bonus payments to managers – a scenario analysis of fairness judgments

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 85-94


With regard to salaries and bonuses for managers in Germany, it is often criticised that high wages and in particular bonus payments, particularly in larger companies, are disproportionately large compared to the performance and responsibilities of a single manager. Against this background, the article investigates the circumstances under which bonus payments for managers are judged to be just or unjust. The article draws upon theoretical approaches of organisational justice. We use data from a representative telephone survey where German workers were asked to judge hypothetical scenarios. The analyses show that respondents are more likely to accept bonuses if these can be directly attributed to the performance of the managers and if the company has a transparent information policy. In addition, moderate bonus payments are judged as being fairer. Finally, respondents seem to take into account that a company’s profits can seldom be ascribed solely to the efforts and performance of the management: The most influential factor for the evaluations of the respondents is the degree to which employees also share in firm profits. more…(in German)

Julia Alfänger, Robert Cywinski, Arne Elias, Rolf Dobischat

Employment in the education sector – precarious employment in a polarised labour market

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 94-104


The education sector is traditionally characterised by atypical employment. To some degree, these atypical forms of employment are also connected to precarious employment. The article presents results of an empirical study on the employment situation in the further education system and identifies those structures which cause the labour market to become further differentiated. The findings demonstrate that it is especially the underlying financing of further education and the particular type of employment relationship that strongly determine the pattern and risk of precarity. On the basis of this study, this article advocates against the employment situations of the trainers being stigmatised as individual failures, and instead argues that they should be seen as a structural result of inter- and intra-segmental polarisation forces.
more…(in German)

Silke Tophoven, Anita Tisch

Dimensions of precarious employment and health among middle-aged German employees

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 105-112


This article examines the relationship between precarious employment and functional health. Precarious employment is considered to be a multidimensional concept encompassing the legal framework of the employment relationship, the material situation as well as workplace-related ratings of employees. Workplace-related dimensions include job insecurity, lack of development opportunities, scope of influence at the workplace, perceived appreciation and physical demands. Based on data from the German lidA study (n=5.337), it has been empirically tested whether these precarious characteristics of employment are negatively associated to functional health and if they differ according to the type of employment relationship and between men and women. The focus of the analysis is on middle-aged German employees. The results show that it is, above all, workplace-related dimensions of precarious employment that are related to health and also that gender differences exist in the examined relationships. more…(in German)

Petra Böhnke, Ann-Christin Renneberg, Isabel Valdés Cifuentes

Atypical work and health in Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 113-120


The flexibilization of gainful employment has led to an increase in atypical employment in most European countries. Due to the accompanying loss of recognition, low pay and poor integration into the social security system, health problems are almost inevitable. This article is based on the assumption that the correlation between atypical employment forms and health varies from country to country and is influenced by institutional characteristics such as the relationship between social security and flexibility on the labour market. Empirical analyses are carried out using data from the European Working Conditions Survey 2010 and macro indicators from Eurostat. The results show that there is a correlation in most countries, especially in regard to poor health and temporary agency work. In general, there are only small institutional country effects which moderate the link between employment and health. more…(in German)

Reinhard Bispinck/WSI-Tarifarchiv

2015 Annual Report on Collective Bargaining: severe labour disputes and considerable realwage increases

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 121-128


Numerous strikes were a typical feature of the collective bargaining process in 2015. Overall, the trade unions of the DGB in Germany negotiated wage and salary agreements for about 12.5 million employees last year. The wage agreements were slightly below the level of the previous year. The duration of the agreements was, on average, just less than two years (21.4 months). This resulted in an overall annual increase in nominal wage rates of an average of 2.7% (2014: 3.1%). This annual increase was within the cost-neutral scope for nominal pay growth, which is the sum of the target inflation rate of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the trend productivity growth. The basic agreed pay in real terms rose on aggregate in real terms by 2.4%. more…(in German)

Thorsten Schulten

WSI Report on Minimum Wages 2016: dynamic development in Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 129-135


The WSI Report on Minimum Wages 2016 gives an overview on the current developments of minimum wages in 37 European and non-European countries. Drawing on the WSI Minimum Wage Database the report provides current data on the level and development of statutory minimum wages. In 2015 there was a continuation of more dynamic wage developments which had started already two years ago. Against the background of low inflation, in many countries minimum wage earners saw significant increases in real wages. In order to make an efficient contribution towards combating the danger of deflation, minimum wages need to continue their dynamic growth path in 2016.
more…(in German)

Pierre-André Gericke, Alfons Schmid, Stefan Werth

Mismatches between skills and qualification requirements in the working backgrounds of entrants into unemployment

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 136-142


The subject of the analysis is a mismatch in qualification levels; that is the divergence between employees’ formal qualification levels and the actual qualification requirements for the work carried out. In this article the extent and structure of occupational mismatches in Germany is examined. Specifically we analyse the situation of persons entering unemployment and examine the discrepancy between the job requirements in their last occupation and their formal qualifications. We use official labour market data from the Federal Employment Agency in Germany that represent a complete sample of all registered entries into unemployment in Germany between July 2010 and January 2012. The results show that qualification mismatches vary considerably across different occupations. more…(in German)

Jörg Hofmann

Collective agreement coverage – a question of fairness

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2016, pp 143-147


More fairness exists in companies subject to a collective agreement. Solidarity wage policy, redistribution, participation and active involvement in determining working conditions are more successful with a collective agreement than without. Facing the challenges posed by new signs of digitalisation, new forms of the course of the working life and an aging workforce are also dealt with more fairly in companies subject to collective agreements. After a change in trend in recent years, IG Metall has made the further increase in collective bargaining coverage an operational aim. The article outlines how trade unions, employers and the legislator can promote an increase in the levels of collective agreement coverage. more…(in German)

Issue 01/2016

Daniel Seikel

A social and democratic Europe? Obstacles and perspectives for action

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 5–13


Building on the concept of social democracy, this article suggests using it as a blueprint to fundamentally change the course of the European integration process. It addresses the question of how European integration can be put at the service of social democracy. The starting point is that the institutional architecture of the European multi-level system creates a systematic imbalance between liberalisation and social regulation. Following from this, three policy fields are identified that are of central importance for the realisation of a social and democratic Europe: an “open” constitution for Europe, social minimum standards and the recuperation of the fiscal capacities of the political system. more...(in German)

Jason Beckfield

Long-term trends toward more inequality and weaker welfare states in Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 14–20


After the Second World War, several European welfare states accomplished levels of social equality and economic growth never before seen in modern history. Today, the social contract underlying these achievements is breaking, or has broken, in many European welfare states. Why? How? I argue that the market-liberal turn in European policy-making and polity-making in the 1980s entrenched a regional capitalism that reversed a long-term trend toward growing equality between and within European nations. This end of equalization in Europe is currently taking on a particularly pronounced form, as the peripheries and marginals of Europe grow more peripheral and marginal as the Eurozone crisis deepens. In making my case for these provocative claims, I draw on analyses of individual-level data on household incomes in several EU nations, and macro-level data on EU economies and welfare states. more...(in German)

Martin Heidenreich

The Pyrrhic victory of egalitarianism - Income inequalities in Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 21–31


This article discusses the evolution of poverty and income inequality in Europe before and during the eurozone crisis. Based on a European micro data set (EU-SILC), the substantial stability of income inequality at the national and European level is demonstrated and explained by the continuing impact of the egalitarian institutions of the postwar period (particularly the welfare state, trade unions, education and industrial work), by a higher female employment rate and by developments in southern and eastern Europe in opposite directions: While the economic and social convergence of eastern and western European countries continues, between-nation inequalities are increasing particularly between the countries of northern and southern Europe. Also the institutional rigidities of the Economic and Monetary Union contribute not only to largely stable patterns of income inequality in Europe, but also to mass unemployment in the south of Europe. In sum, cross-border conditions and transnational perceptions of living situations are becoming increasingly central to an understanding of inequality in Europe. more...(in German)

Bea Cantillon, Sarah Marchal, Christiaan Luigjes

Decent incomes for he poor: which role for the EU?

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 32–40


In contrast to the ambitious Lisbon and Europe 2020 social targets, most EU member states have failed to make progress in fighting poverty over the past decades. Since the crisis the picture has become truly negative, even more so as it relates to strong diverging trends within the Union. We argue that the once successful subsidiarity and soft governance principles regarding social policy at the EU level have started to struggle with broader societal and economic trends. We propose to broaden the current approach by including more transparent policy indicators into EU governance. In our article, we illustrate how a broad approach and assessment of policy indicators related to minimum income protection policies helps in making explicit the large variation in policy choices across EU member states. more...(in German)

Andreas Nölke

Financialization as a core problem for a social Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 41–48


For more than three decades increasing financialization i.e. the growing importance of the financial sector and its logic, has been shaping the European economy. This process has not only led to increasing economic instability, but also to increasing social inequality. An important driving force of financialization in Europe is the EU Common Market programme, recently supported by the introduction of the euro and the euro rescue activities. The EU is still potentially the most well-suited institution for limiting financialization, in the pursuit of a social Europe. However, both the legal foundation, as well as the political balance of power in the EU lead us to expect a further deepening of financialization and its social imbalance. more...(in German)

Thomas Rixen

Social Europe in the wheelwork of tax competition

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 49–56


As a result of the current financial, debt and Eurozone crisis and in reaction to prominent tax scandals, tax cooperation is high on the European and global political agenda. This article argues that the current attempts at curtailing harmful tax competition are insufficient and that more fundamental reform is needed. The article first shows how tax competition works and how it has contributed to the increase in inequality across Europe. Moreover, it discusses the measures which have been taken so far to regulate tax competition. While there is progress in terms of administrative cooperation and transparency, generalized tax competition – in particular in the area of corporate business taxation – has not been addressed. Finally, the author proposes the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) with minimum tax rates. Only by means of a common European tax policy will member states be able to regain their de facto tax sovereignty, which they have lost to economic integration, to create the preconditions for a social Europe. more...(in German)

Achim Truger

Towards a fiscal emergency programme to save a social Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 57–65


The dominating macroeconomic paradigm in Europe is detrimental to growth and employment and hostile to the welfare state. A sustainable solution for the growth and employment crisis in the EU can therefore only be achieved by overcoming this paradigm by a revival of Keynesianism and by a reform of the European institutional framework towards a social Europe. The way towards such a reform can be started by using the existing fiscal leeway within the current framework. The European Commission has recently taken important steps towards the necessary revitalisation of fiscal policy as a macroeconomic tool with its proposals for the “Juncker-Plan” and the re-interpretation of the fiscal framework. A more consistent and far-reaching re-interpretation could make possible a real positive fiscal stimulus which could lead the euro area to a self-sustaining recovery after seven years of crisis. more...(in German)

Janine Leschke

Europe 2020: midterm evaluation and potential improvements

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, Seiten 66-69


While the instruments of economic governance have been strengthened considerably during the crisis, no progress has been made in the social dimension of Europe. Within the framework of the European Semester the more strictly monitored and centrally controlled budget policy has further consolidated the already existing subordination of social objectives in the EU. This article takes stock of the Europe 2020 strategy. The focus is on the contradiction between the social and employment targets and the simultaneous requirements for the consolidation of public budgets in the context of the European Semester. In particular the various indicator systems that exist in the social field are discussed. Their complexity and inconsistency are highlighted and questions about their additional value are raised. Finally, improvement potentials of the Europe 2020 strategy will be discussed. more...(in German)

Thorsten Schulten

Living wages or poverty wages? Objectives of a European minimum wage policy

WSI-Mitteilungen 1/2016, pp 70–72


Despite the fact that many European countries have had statutory minimum wages for a long time, the phenomenon of the working poor is still rather widespread. Minimum wages are often set at a relatively low level and are de facto poverty wages. More recently, however, many countries have seen the emergence of living wage initiatives aiming at the introduction of minimum wages that are above the subsistence level. Against that background a European minimum wage policy would have the task of coordinating the national initiatives at European level and defining joint norms and objectives to make sure that all minimum wages in Europe become living wages. more...(in German)

Issue 08/2015

Anne Busch-Heizmann

Women’s occupations, men’s occupations and the “revolving door”: extent and implications for east and west Germany

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 571–582


The article addresses the observation of different occupational paths for women and men on the German labour market. First, recent data showing the extent of this (horizontal) occupational gender segregation are presented for Germany and separated between East and West Germany. Here we use the new occupational classification of the German Federal Statistical Office, version 2010. Second, possible implications of the segregation are discussed, focusing on its remarkable persistence over time. This discussion starts with the observation of frequent occupational changes from gender-atypical to gender typical occupations over the individual life course. Research from the USA explains this “revolving door” effect with mechanisms of “social control” within working life. Considering institutional and social psychological approaches in gender research, we present the state of research addressing the German labour market with respect to these mechanisms. Furthermore, differences between East and West Germany concerning the “revolving door” are introduced and discussed. more...(in German)

Carina Sperber, Ulrich Walwei

Reversal of the German labour market trend since 2005: downside of the job boom?

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 583–592


Ten years ago, we observed a turnaround of the German labour market. Employment increased continuously and unemployment came down tremendously. At the same time temporary and low-wage jobs gained in importance. Several questions arise: How far are changes in the composition of work arrangements a new and rising phenomenon? To what extent were the developments accompanied by increasing and unwarranted inequalities? To give answers the article examines the composition of employment and the speed of changes before and after the turnaround in 2005. In order to assess recent developments, we discuss results regarding upward mobility from less stable and low-wage jobs. The paper shows that changes in the composition of employment have slowed down recently, but have continued despite a period of improved labour market perfomance. more...(in German)

Christoph S. Weber, Philipp Dees

Reservation wages: still a gap between East and West Germany

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 593–603


Almost twenty-five years after German reunification there is still a significant difference between the minimum wages that East and West Germans expect when applying for a job. That means that not only does a wage gap still exist between East and West Germany, but also that the reservation wages in the east are lower. As the analysis presented in this article shows, this difference still remains when a range of wage expectations are taken into account, such as, for example, sectoral and qualification components, or the levels of rent for housing. Results indicate that the existing low wage level in East Germany also lowers the reservation wage and thereby reinforces the wage gap. With a view to the politically and socially desired aim of bringing east and west wages into line, this presents a challenge.
more...(in German)

Susanne Pernicka

Dynamics of the power struggle within European wage coordination

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 604–612


This article seeks to explain the emergence of supranational wage coordination which follows a neoliberal market model. It discusses three institutional theories and addresses alternative models of wage policy coordination and their possible enforcement. The varieties of capitalism approach points to the institutional heterogeneity of national developments in north-western and south European countries that have led to supranational interventions. Sociological neo-institutionalism opens up a view on lacking preconditions of competitive isomorphism in the eurozone before the crisis and emphasises the role of state and supranational actors as well as professions. A Bourdieusian field-theoretical perspective focuses on distributional conflicts and power-relations as well as on potential counter forces against the hegemony of neoliberal logics of action. more...(in German)

Daniel Kinderman

Corporate Social Responsibility – the struggle over the EU directive

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 613–621


A new EU Directive represents an important step towards greater corporate accountability: it will require large companies to report on their social, environmental and human rights impacts and the risks their activities pose for third parties. While the circumstances leading to the Directive were favorable, the final text was weakened significantly as a result of opposition from business, German business in particular. This contribution examines the political struggles over the EU’s Non-Financial Reporting Directive and seeks to explain the positions of different countries and interest groups in the negotiations. It identifies domestic regulations as a sufficient but not a necessary condition for support of the Directive. It also suggests that Germany’s particularly fierce resistance is attributable at least in part to the size and influence of Germany’s Mittelstand. more...(in German)

Dorothee Spannagel

Despite economic upswing: Income inequality is not on the decline. WSI-Distribution Report 2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 622–629


The annual distribution report of the WSI presents key figures on the macroeconomic situation in Germany, the distribution of wages and profits and the disposable household incomes. Furthermore, the report addresses currently ongoing discussions related to two issues: the concept of income poverty and how to measure the top end of the wealth distribution. The data provide evidence that the recent economic development in Germany is very robust. We find increasing numbers of employment in those jobs subject to national insurance contributions as well as an increase in real wage levels. At the same time, however, the distribution of household income has not become more equal. In fact, income inequality has recently been rising. The data also prove that, regardless of the good economic situation, poverty rates are not declining. Obviously, not all households are able to benefit from the recent economic upswing. This calls for a stronger income redistribution. The most urgent reforms are: the re-introduction of the wealth tax, an increase in inheritance tax and an increase in the statutory minimum wage. more...(in German)

Helge Baumann

The WSI works council survey 2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 630–638


The Institute of Economic and Social Analysis (WSI) has collected representative data on works councils throughout Germany for almost twenty years. On the basis of the newly started survey phase in 2015, this article enables a deeper insight into the methodical structure and development of this survey. First, special attention is given to the concept of the telephone survey (definition of the target population, sampling procedure and testing of the questionnaire). Next, against the background of past surveys, participants tending to take part in the survey are documented according to the industry sector and company size. In the analysis this allows conclusions to be taken into account of any sampling bias in the WSI works council survey. Overall, it becomes clear that the sampling procedure for works council surveys demands particular care. The analysis of the systematic defaults in the WSI works council survey (non-response) shows that works councils in larger companies and in the new states (Länder) of East Germany display a higher probability of participating in the survey. more...(in German)

Wolfgang, Pieper, Alexander Wegner

Revaluation is a must – from trade union demands to social consensus

WSI-Mitteilungen 8/2015, pp 639–641


Women make up 95% of all employees in the social and educational services, and predominantly – at almost 60% - they are employed on a part time basis. This employment sector provides important care and educational services in day nurseries, the social services and in care for the disabled, thereby securing a basis of care for the development of our children and in addition providing support for those in difficult life circumstances. Now, in 2015, after 25 years of professional advancement and ongoing job evaluation, ver.di has started a bargaining round in the campaign for a revaluation of this employment. It is of fundamental social significance. This article provides an overview of the background and experiences in the sector. more...(in German)

Issue 07/2015

Dieter Rehfeld, Ben Dankbaar

TIndustrial policy: theoretical foundations, varieties and challenges

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 491–499


The article discusses the development of industrial policy on the basis of a quasi-historical typology. Four types are discussed: catching-up policy, restructuring policy, innovation policy and transition policy. Transition policy as a concept is still in its infant phase and is rooted in a number of discussions. Their common focus is the need to meet the so-called grand challenges and orchestrate the transition to a sustainable development path for economy and society. This requires a new understanding of the role of the state. Moving beyond ‘triple helix’ approaches, the state becomes an active participant in the interplay between a large number of social actors, ensuring that long-term goals of sustainable development guide everyone’s actions and are ultimately achieved. The manufacturing sector is of central importance for transition policy because of its contribution to technological innovation and its role in industrial relations and processes of income distribution. more...(in German)

Martin Gornig

How much industry does the country need?

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 500–506


The facts and analyses of the significance of industry in an international comparison indicate that there is no general answer to the question of how much industry an economy needs. The appropriate, or rather the optimal, role of industry can only be made plausible under the specific sectoral and historical conditions existing in a country. Consequently, the currently high significance of industry in Germany may be explained by the special focus on research-intensive and capital-goods oriented branches and the increased specific inclusion in regional and global value-added chains. Simultaneously, an examination of investment activity reveals the fragility of the current situation. Although in the USA and Great Britain the share of industrial output has declined, the investment activity is on the rise. Germany is currently a strong industrial location, but it seems that if present weaknesses in investment are not overcome, it will be on the decline. more...(in German)

Karl Aiginger

Industry policy as driver of a strategy with social perspective

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 507–515


We are experiencing a renewed interest in manufacturing and industrial policy. This is a response to the shrinking world market shares of industrialized countries and China's emergence as the largest industrial nation, as well as to the slower recovery of countries with a low share of industry and a high current account deficit in the wake of the crisis. At the same time, there is a consensus that industrial policy must be designed in a fundamentally different way than it has been up to now. There are three stages to the development of the ‘new industrial policy’: First, it must not be an isolated policy division, but rather systemic – e.g. it must cooperate closely with innovation and education policy. Second, it must take into account the knowledge limitations of the policy agents and industrial policy must be understood as a discovery process. Third, following the findings of the WWWforEurope (Welfare, Wealth and Work for Europe) project, it must take into account societal goals in the sense of ‘Beyond GDP’ indicators. This requires an ambitious strategy, particularly for countries with high per capita income. We call this strategy ‘high road competitiveness’ or ‘quality strategy’. Industrial policy must not be misused in order to cement a low-wage sector and resist strict environmental standards. A ‘low road strategy’ would also be inconsistent with long-term business interests.
more...(in German)

Alexander Gerybadze

Instruments of innovation policy – towards a new industrial policy?

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 516–525


Innovation policy and the building of dynamic capabilities are the key to successful industrial development. National support programs for R&D and industrial innovation have become increasingly important for economic development. The toolbox and the organizational processes of public innovation support have been changed considerably. Our paper thus analyzes the new features of innovation policy that have evolved during the past 10 to 15 years. Typical characteristics of the new paradigm of innovation policy are: the stronger emphasis on stimulating market forces, innovation-enhancing framework conditions, and the support of cooperation activities, networks and regional clusters (“open innovation”). Some movement away from supply-side policies and traditional “picking-the winner” policies can be observed. Since the financial crisis, manufacturing innovation has also become an issue in many countries, as well as the stronger involvement of government in stimulating innovation and industry renewal. New strategies in many countries emphasize future challenges that need to be solved through research and innovation (co2-reduction, energy, urbanization). We analyze Germany’s innovation system in particular: while being strong in basic research, we still miss dynamic capabilities and industrial renewal as a result of structural deficits. German industry is strong in medium-technology and incremental innovation, but weak in advanced-technology and knowledge-based services. Even though the German Federal Government formulated a New High-tech-Strategy in 2010, the successful implementation of a coherent strategy for innovation and industrial renewal still displays deficits.
more...(in German)

Frank Gerlach, Astrid Ziegler

Outlining a pro-active industrial policy – the example of Germany

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 526–533


Industrial policy is still a controversial issue in academic and political discourse. Looking back, however, the Federal Republic of Germany has always taken pragmatic measures aimed at promoting industrial development – in contrast to its determinedly market-oriented approach to economic regulation. These measures have primarily taken the form of assistance to sectors that were in crisis – but have also included programmes to promote high-tech industries. It is only in recent times that a reconsideration has taken place. Industrial policy is now viewed as an area in which there has to be regulatory intervention by the state, supported by the main industrial players. In this article the new approach being taken by the Federal Government is assessed as being a first step in the right direction – albeit an inadequate one. For this reason the article concludes with some recommendations on what form an integrated and sustainable concept of industrial policy could take. more...(in German)

Antje Blöcker

Industrial value chains: challenges to the German industrial system based on the example of the automotive industry

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 534–541


For years the automotive industry was the paradigm for the German industrial system. Key trends in this core sector speeded up in the years following the crisis 2008/2009. In the course of globalization there has been a growing gap between domestic and foreign production and employment. Inward pressure on employment is assumed to have risen because the existing mode of export is increasingly approaching its limits. Since 2014 new cost-cutting programmes have created rising pressure on suppliers. In all parts of the value chain the workforce has been divided into core and periphery. The hiring out of employees and temporary contracts has expanded significantly. Should electro mobility take a hold, new production lines will be on the agenda and will then threaten jobs in existing powertrains. The digitalization of production processes makes it necessary to integrate new actors into the value chain. These trends present specific challenges to work-oriented industrial policy. more...(in German)

Margot Schüller

China’s industrial policy: on the way to a new model of success?

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 542–549


China’s industrial policy has more similarities with industrial policy approaches in Japan and South Korea than with those pursued in Western industrialized countries. By targeting specific industries and regions, the Chinese government applies a vertical industrial policy in order to influence the speed and direction of structural changes. The design and enforcement of industrial policies and programmes is, however, restricted by the huge size of the country, clashes of interest between central government and local governments, the strong position of state-owned enterprises and the peculiarities of the political system. China’s industrial policies focused initially on catching-up in traditional industries through transfer of technology from foreign companies. Currently, the government is aiming at a more indigenous innovation-driven and sustainable development. Against the background of demographic change and mounting labour costs the need to increase productivity has also become an important goal for China. Because of the global economic importance of China the ability to successfully re-direct the country’s growth model and achieve the associated industrial restructuring will also have an important impact on other countries. more...(in German)

Bernd Lange

European industrial policy: between demand and reality

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 550–553


The article provides an overview of recent initiatives in industrial policy within the European Union, while noting that specific steps towards implementation have been lacking to date. Discussion focuses specifically on the Juncker Plan for a 60 billion comprehensive European investment programme, the research framework Horizont 2020, the Digital Agenda, the Energy Union and trade agreements (TIPP). The fact that codetermination and qualification do not play a role in these programmes is particularly criticized and also that further deregulation is on the agenda under the heading of ‘reduction of bureaucracy’. more...(in German)

Wolfgang Lemb

Alliance for Industry – industrial policy challenges and perspectives from the view of IG Metall

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 554-556


The article first identifies the strong role that industry plays for the German economic system, and follows by describing the key points of a new industrial policy. This includes maintaining and expanding industrial value chains, increasing and developing the competences of the workforce and raising industrial acceptance. The alliance ‘The Future of Industry’ (Zukunft der Industrie) presents an opportunity to design new industrial policy and its implementation, together with the Federation of German Industry (BDI) and based on consensual results, even though certain positions, for example on trade policy, still remain at variance. more...(in German)

Oliver Zander

Alliance for Industry –Gesamtmetall`s* perspective

WSI-Mitteilungen 7/2015, pp 557–558


Based on the importance of the industrial sector for the German economy, central challenges to industrial policy are referred to: securing the supply of skilled labour, the effective combination of output and industry-related services, digitalization and networking (Industry 4.0), and the adoption of global standards in trade agreements. The role of the state is seen, above all, in securing framework conditions or economic measures and any controlling interventions are regarded sceptically. Accordingly the Alliance for Industry addresses industry as a whole and not individual sectors. (*Federation of German Employers’ Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries). more...(in German)

Issue 06/2015

Martin Brussig

Pensioners against their will?

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 407–416


Older recipients of unemployment benefit II, a means-tested basic income for needy people of working age, have to apply for an old-age pension not at regular pension age, but at the earliest possible time, i.e. even if they qualify for an old-age pension only with deductions (early pension). This stipulation, codified in the Social Law, Book II, is criticised because of the loss of autonomy on the part of the benefit recipients who cannot determine their own social status and for the disincentives it creates for job centres. This paper analyses the consequences of this stipulation for older persons who are recipients of unemployment benefit II. The analysis is based on social insurance data from the German Pension Insurance. Although these data do not contain all relevant information, such as individual preferences about entry into pension, the timing of the fulfillment of all conditions to obtain an (early) pension, and household incomes, they allow us to estimate the numbers of those who start their pension early due to obligatory retirement. The results indicate that pension entry behavior of older recipients of unemployment benefits II would not change fundamentally, if the obligation to retire was abandoned.
more...(in German)

Mathias Heiden

Hidden conflicts for labour and reproduction in times of crises

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 417–426


While in the context of the European crisis the German labour market has been declared a ‘job-wonder’, labour research has, for decades, identified a permanent crisis within the German working society. Underemployment, precariousness and work overload are just some of the symptoms of the crisis. By now it seems as though employees accept the crisis of working society both passively and apathetically. Contrary to popular opinion, strikes have decreased, membership in bargaining parties remains at a low level and social protests, as are currently taking place in southern Europe, are absent. At the same time, below the threshold of public perceptions, hidden labour disputes are arising, in which the symptoms of the crisis are becoming apparent. This paper demonstrates the course of developments within labour conflicts since the 1980s: labour conflicts are increasingly becoming part of everyday life. Empirical research not only reveals crucial areas of conflict, but also a general intensification of labour disputes. more...(in German)

Maria Petmesidou, Emmanuele Pavolini, Ana M. Guillén

Southern European health care reforms during the Euro crisis – a four country comparison

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 427–435


This article addresses the question of whether the eurozone crisis has been providing a politically opportune time to drastically curtail public health care in southern Europe or whether, instead, there are signs of longer-term reform strategies for potentially balancing fiscal targets with the quest for enhanced value and health outcomes. After a brief examination of the profile of healthcare systems prior to the crisis, we comparatively assess the mix of retrenchment, restructuring and recalibration strategies in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. The effects of the austerity-driven reforms on current (and expected) health outcomes are also briefly analysed. We conclude with reflections on the future of public healthcare in southern Europe. more...(in German)

Reinhard Bispinck/WSI-Tarifarchiv

Interim Report on Collective Bargaining: A mid-year balance on the 2015 pay round

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 436–446


General pay increases agreed in the first six months of the 2015 collective bargaining round range from 2% to 3.5% and more in most segments for the current year, and for the coming year between 1% and 3%. The average duration of the new pay agreements is 19.1 months. Calculated on an annual basis, the average increase of wages based on collective agreements for 14.2 million employees in 2015 will be around 2.9%, which is above the average increase of 3.1% in 2014. This will lead to noticeable real wage increases this year. more...(in German)

Thorsten Schulten

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report – 2014/2015

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 447–456


The current European Collective Bargaining Report of the WSI gives an overview of recent trends in collective bargaining in the European Union in the years 2014 and 2015. It analyses the development of collectively agreed and actual wages against the background of the general economic context in Europe. Although many European countries have been faced by stagnating or even declining (real) wages in recent years, the years 2014 and 2015 have led to a somewhat more positive development in wage dynamics. However, this was not the result of a particular expansive wage policy but more of extremely low inflation rates which in many countries made higher increases in real wages possible.
more...(in German)

Markus Hertwig, Johannes Kirsch, Carsten Wirth

Onsite subcontracting: Distribution and practices in the manufacturing sector

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 457–465


Based on a representative telephone survey for Germany and twelve case studies, the article examines the distribution of onsite subcontracting in manufacturing, the motives underlying those practices, and the role of illegal forms of subcontracting (‘Schein-Werkverträge’). The quantitative analysis shows that onsite subcontracting increases with the number of the employees at the company. In terms of their motives, managers mostly mention socially desirable aspects, like increasing flexibility. The case studies show, however, that differences in labour regulation (collective agreements, work and employment conditions that differ between firms, industries and states), and the aim to circumvent the personnel management of a group of persons who are perceived as problematic, are important reasons for choosing onsite subcontracting. The representative telephone survey shows that a surprisingly large number of subcontracting practices operates ‘at or beyond the border’ of German law. This is confirmed by the results of case studies. more...(in German)

Jörg Hofmann, Tanja Smolenski

Welfare state 4.0 – Collective agreement coverage and working hours are decisive

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp. 466–472


Working hours contribute significantly towards forming individual working life and determine the possibilities to create improved work/life balance; the design of which – length and distribution – is consequently a corner stone of the whole arrangement of the welfare state. Changes in working time policy, in trade union policies of collective agreements and co-determination, are closely linked to developments within the welfare state. This is demonstrated by the example of the working time policy of IG Metall. It becomes clear that working time policy and collective agreement coverage are constitutional corner stones of the German welfare state model – and must remain so. Innovative working time design is therefore the basis for a new form of a standard work arrangement and the pre-requisite is the extension of collective agreement coverage. The political aim is to make labour policy and above all working time policy, a trade union and socio-political project. more...(in German)

Norbert Kluge

More codetermination in Europe – safeguarding codetermination in Germany

WSI-Mitteilungen 6/2015, pp 473–474


Codetermination in Germany must be substantially safeguarded and expanded so that Europe gains a strong reference for obligatory employee participation at top management levels. If that is not successful, there is a threat that rulings from Brussels could dilute the substance of codetermination in Germany. Instruction, consultation and codetermination require minimum standards throughout Europe. That is a challenge to the European trade union. The advantage is that European enterprises will be more able to survive in international competition. more...(in German)

Issue 05/2015

Janine Leschke, Bela Galgóczi

Free movement of labour in Europe at times of the crisis: who are the winners and losers?

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 327–337


The article deals with the qualitative and quantitative dimension of East-West intra-EU labour mobility in the context of the economic crisis. We ask the question whether EU labour mobility contributes to a better allocation of human resources as the European Commission has repeatedly stated. On the basis of the European Labour Force Survey we analyze developments in employment of EU8 and EU2 migrants in selected EU15 countries and compare unemployment rates between EU10 migrants and domestic workers in an attempt to identify winners and losers. At least in parts, short-term migrant labour has acted as a buffer during the crisis in most receiving countries. Our analysis shows in line with other academic research that over-qualification seems to be a characteristic feature of EU10 migrants. The sectoral distribution profiles of EU10 migrants presented in the article supports this phenomenon. This under-utilisation of human capital points to one of the greatest challenges that intra-EU labour mobility is facing in recent years.
more...(in German)

Ines Wagner

The posting of workers within the EU: consequences for labour market integration and social security

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 338–344


The posting of workers refers to the process that takes place when a worker is employed in a EU member state and the employer decides to send the worker temporarily to another member state to fulfil a service. The Posting of Workers Directive aims to regulate this type of transnational work. The questions as to how the life worlds, working conditions and the social spaces of posted workers are impacted by their regulatory environment have received less attention. This qualitative study examines how transnational regulation of posted work affects the actual experiences of posted workers in the German context. The analysis focuses on the problems arising for posted workers when both the employment and associated social regulation are anchored in two member states.
more...(in German)

Jutta Höhne, Karin Schulze Buschoff

Labour market integration of immigrants in Germany – an overview focussing on countries of origin and generations

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 345–354


In recent years, Germany has become a country attracting a large number of immigrants. At present, public attention is mainly focused on new immigrants. The vast majority of migrants, however, has been living here for more than 10 years or belongs to the second generation. Therefore, the aim of this article is to complement the current debate by providing a detailed overview of labour market integration according to country of origin and generation, and seeking to identify the most disadvantaged groups of migrants. German census data from the year 2012 confirm, in general, that first and second generation immigrants have poorer job prospects than women and men without an immigrant background. Analyses account for levels of education, period of immigration, age and other relevant characteristics and reveal that disadvantages are most apparent for migrants of Turkish origin and migrants from other non-EU countries: This is especially true in terms of unemployment, occupational status and precarious employment. These disadvantages are less pronounced for migrants from within the EU, but nevertheless substantial for immigrants from the eastern European countries. Only immigrants from western and northern Europe are neither more nor less affected by unemployment than people without an immigrant background, achieve equivalent positions in the labour market and are as likely to have atypical jobs.
more...(in German)

Nadine Absenger, Florian Blank

Limits to freedom of movement and solidarity – the exclusion of EU citizens from security benefits for employment seekers

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 355–364


The German political debate on the pros and cons of freedom of movement within the European Union is often connected to fears of allegedly unjustified receipt of benefits. However, German social law allows for an exclusion of EU citizens from unemployment benefit II (SGB II) under certain conditions. It is highly controversial whether this exclusion is admissible with respect to both constitutional and European law. The problematic nature of this situation is discussed in this article. It is emphasized that Germany has bound itself to European and international treaties and hence is obliged to solidarity with migrants. Any limitations to human rights such as rights to social security must be extensively justified and would constitute an exception in German law. The conflict about the exclusion from benefits also points to the double character of unemployment benefit II, which contains elements of both labour market policy and social assistance schemes. This double character is also reflected in the recent decisions of the European Court of Justice.
more...(in German)

Lydia Morris

Transnational migration and the dynamic nature of rights

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 365–373


This article addresses the position of transnational migrants with respect to their access to rights and their more general standing in society. Steering a path between two polarised positions, which respectively highlight national closure and post-national expansion, the article outlines the concept of ‘civic stratification’ and its use as a means for the management of migration. This concept was first developed by David Lockwood (1996) in relation to the inequalities generated within citizenship, and it refers to a pattern of inequality by virtue of rights granted or denied by the state. In the present article it is given a broader application in addressing the position of transnational migrants. The formal dimension of civic stratification, referring to legal status, and its informal dimension, which refers to ‘moral and material resources’, are used to outline a possible relationship between the treatment of migrants through the structuring of immigration law and broader public perceptions of their standing in society.
more...(in German)

Ludger Pries, Kyoko Shinozaki

New dynamics of migration and the consequences for trade union politics

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 374–382


Historically, trade unions worldwide have been focused on representing interests and defining politics in their corresponding nation-state oriented frameworks. Labour migration has been a complicated topic, and also in German trade unions it has mainly been considered a challenge rather than an opportunity. In the light of current international migration dynamics and its significance in global capitalism, the question arises of whether the strategies and politics of trade unions can remain nationally oriented when increasingly more people are moving across borders to work. After outlining current labour migration dynamics, this article analyses fundamental dilemmas faced by trade unions in relation to labour migration and presents examples of innovative trade union politics representing the interests of migrant workers.
more...(in German)

Anna Katharina Jacob, Matthias Knuth

Educational grants for academic additional qualifications of migrants: a failure

WSI-Mitteilungen 5/2015, pp 383–387


Many of the immigrants currently living in Germany have received academic degrees abroad but nevertheless they face considerable disadvantages with regard to labour market access and the quality of employment – the disadvantages apply especially to female migrants. Recent legislation on the approval of professional qualifications obtained abroad is not applicable to a large proportion of those academic degrees. An alternative entry into the German academic labour market is the partial recognition of studies and exams completed abroad as an entry ticket to a considerably shortened curriculum leading to a German academic degree. However, for those affected there is a lack of provision of livelihood support during enrolment, since in the majority of cases the German mainstream study support programme does not apply.
more...(in German)

Wilhelm Adamy

Labour market policy and existing barriers to a ‘culture of welcome’

WSI-Mittteilungen 5/2015, pp 388–390


In recent times there have been a number of statutory measures designed to ease entry into the labour market for the increased number of asylum seekers and refugees. The efforts to improve labour market integration have not been able to keep step; there are still considerable barriers working against a ‘culture of welcome’. A central pre-requisite for the improved social and labour market integration of asylum seekers and refugees is a needs-oriented German language –learning programme. There are currently considerable gaps in the support for general and work-oriented language needs. It is a matter of urgency to remove these barriers and to make additional financial support available from tax revenue. In addition, the tax-financed Harz-IV system is equally challenged, as is the contribution-financed unemployment insurance. Both institutions must more strongly address the social and labour market integration of refugees. In particular, support for women must be included, focusing on their specific problem situation.
more...(in German)

Dietrich Thränhardt

The new EU-mobility: benefits for all or social erosion?

WSI-Mittteilungen 5/2015, pp 391–393


Migration from the new and old member states of the EU is taking on greatly varied forms and dimensions. In countries with well-ordered labour and social systems the migrants fit into the existing structures. An important factor are internal controls such as works councils, trade unions and trade associations. Countries having high levels of illicit work and a deregulated labour market also face amounts of uncontrolled migration, contributing to further reductions in wages and social standards. Migrants can then become scapegoats for social problems and political disruption can result. In Germany these problems exist in certain sectors such as the meat industry and the care sector. These sectors can be regulated.
more...(in German)

Issue 04/2015

Peter A. Hall

Varieties of Capitalism and the Euro Crisis

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 245-252


This article examines the role played by varieties of capitalism in the Euro crisis, considering their role in the origins of the crisis and in the governmental response to it. The roots of the crisis are associated with institutional asymmetries between political economies. Northern European economies equipped to operate export-led growth models suitable for success within a monetary union were joined to southern economies whose demand-led growth models were difficult to operate successfully without the capacity to devalue. Conflict over how to respond to the crisis has also been conditioned by the kinds of economic doctrines popular in different varieties of capitalism. To achieve prosperity, Europe will have to create a new kind of monetary union. more...(in German)

Stefan Kirchner, Markus Wolf

Comparing digital work within Europe

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 253–262


The importance of digital work in Europe is growing as increasing numbers of employees are using computers on a regular basis. To date little is known about the differences between countries regarding computer usage at work. To address this gap we have utilised data from the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) to analyse computer usage in the EU-15 from 1991 to 2010. The article analyses the general share of computer users and the additionally distinguishes between basic users and intensive users. The results show steady growth of digital work across many EU-15 countries. Nordic countries have gained a lead while it is especially the countries in the south that are lagging behind. Intensive users prevail in Great Britain and Ireland. Throughout the observation period this polarization between intensive users and non-users becomes even more pronounced. In contrast, basic users predominate in Germany. The Nordic countries have reached the highest level of digital inclusion as the numbers of both basic and intensive users have increased. The results highlight a persistent digital divide amongst countries of the EU-15 and suggest that these follow different paths of development. more...(in German)

Sarah Godar, Christoph Paetz, Achim Truger

The scope for more progressive tax policies in OECD-countries

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 263-271


In the past few decades the redistributive effect of the tax system has been substantially weakened by deliberate tax policies in most OECD countries. Despite some signs that this trend may have recently come to a halt a comprehensive policy change is not underway. One central argument put forward against such a change is the claim of a serious trade-off between equity and efficiency: According to the dominant view, higher taxes on top personal incomes, corporate income and wealth are detrimental to growth and employment. This article argues that even the dominating theoretical framework leaves substantial leeway for redistributive taxation. From a Keynesian macroeconomic perspective redistribution may even be systematically conducive to growth and employment. Consequently, apart from attempts at international tax coordination and harmonisation, national tax policies should actively use their room for manoeuvre towards more progressive taxation in order to correct the disparities in the income distribution and at the same time increase the space for fiscal manoeuvre. more...(in German)

Erik Bengtsson

Wage restraint and wage militancy: Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, 1950–2010

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 272–279


This contribution questions the influential interpretation that strong unions and centralized wage bargaining facilitate wage restraint and that during the postwar period wage restraint was an important cause of strong economic growth performance. This view is contrasted with a power-oriented perspective that sees strong unions as conducive to redistribution from capital to labour, rather than wage restraint. The paper uses data on wages and productivity from 1950 to 2010 for Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, and shows that there has been more wage restraint after 1980 than before, and not more with more bargaining centralization. The results support the power-oriented understanding of wage bargaining institutions and suggest that the causes of wage restraint, its effects on investments and inequality should be reconsidered. more...(in German)

Thomas Weiß

Return on capital in historical comparison – Germany in a downward trend?

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 280–289


Against the background of the world-wide financial crisis that started in 2007, the development of profitability - or the rate of profit - as a central characteristic of capitalist economies is analysed for the Federal Republic of Germany since 1970. The analysis is based on two data sets: on the one hand the National Accounts (NA) statistics and on the other the published statistics of the German Federal Bank (Deutsche Bundesbank) on the asset and capital structure as well as the profitability of non-financial corporations. The analysis shows that in the long run the rate of profit has fallen, as has capital productivity. However, according to the NA data, from 1982 onwards this downward movement was markedly weaker if not stabilised. This reflects results from other countries. Furthermore, using the balance sheet statistics of the Deutsche Bundesbank, it was found that the structure of assets of German enterprises has shifted more and more towards financial assets and away from fixed assets. However, the ensuing returns on these financial assets could not turn around the general downward trend. more...(in German)

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective bargaining and works councils: The latest data on coverage and development from the IAB establishment panel 2014

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 290–297


In this contribution we present the dispersion of collective bargaining agreements according to firm size and industries using the latest data from the IAB establishment panel. Accordingly, in 2014 about 53 % of the firms in West Germany and 36 % in East Germany were bound to collective agreements. From the beginning of data collecting in 1996 up to the present time coverage in both parts of Germany has been distinctly declining, even though the trend has been less clear-cut of late. Looking at plant level codetermination we find that coverage by works councils declined slightly in East Germany when compared to the previous year, with 33 % of the workforce in the private sector. At 43 % the level in West Germany remains the same as the previous year. However, in the long run a profound downward movement is also apparent here. Since 2004 data on alternative means of representation have been available. However, the alternative means of representation do not show anywhere near the level of stability as works councils. Examining both levels of employee participation together we draw attention to the extensive gaps in representation on the shop-floor and to the blank spots within the German collective agreement and codetermination landscape. more...(in German)

Sigrid Hartong

School reforms in the United States – trends, side-effects and lessons for Germany

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 298–303


This contribution focuses on long-term effects produced by new modes of educational governance. After the so-called PISA-shock radical educational reforms aiming at standardization, quality management via monitoring and state-related deregulation have been implemented in Germany. Against this background, a closer look at the United States is taken, where more intense experiences with similar modes of educational governance have been made. As a result, trends and mechanisms which became manifest and powerful throughout the different waves of reform are identified. In particular, the increasing orientation towards evidence-based and deregulatory policy has produced highly problematic effects. In light of these experiences, the high hopes put into new educational governance in Germany appear rather naive and delusory. In contrast, to avoid bad surprises it is necessary to gain a more realistic picture. more...(in German)

Wolfgang Schroeder, Ralf Rukwid, Jan Machnig

Skilled labour policy as a strategic task for the future

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 304–308


To make the industry ready for the future, competitive and modern it is necessary to provide a sustainable response to the demand for skilled labour in the face of growing digitalization and demographic change. Essentially this is the responsibility of the companies, but all other relevant players must be involved to exploit idle potentials for skilled labour. In order to successfully secure skilled employees IG Metall has proposed a comprehensive programme with co-ordinated instruments and measures encompassing four central fields of action: good education and qualifications, good work with more and improved opportunities for advancement, closer interlocking of work and private life and good labour relations. more...(in German)

Marta Böning

Private households as workplaces: an unprotected zone?

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2015, pp. 309–312


According to statistics from the trade union ver.di, around 115,000 to 300,000 migrant workers are living and working in German households as live-in carers. They do not benefit from protection provided by the German labour law on working time, although according to the ratification of the ILO-Domestic Workers Convention No. 189 Germany is obligated to ensure equal treatment of domestic and non-domestic workers with respect to working time issues. This situation is caused by the arbitrary and extensional interpretation of the law by the German lawmaker, which ignores the sense and purpose of the derogation stipulated by § 18 Sec. 1 Nr. 3 of the German Working Hours Act. In practice this enables the conclusion of immoral contractual arrangements. more...(in German)

Issue 03/2015

Laurent Vogel

Rise and fall of a socio-political field of activity: health and safety protection in the European Union

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 161–169


The free circulation of goods and enterprises in the European market is presenting a challenge to national health and safety policies. For that reason, from the very beginning of the process of European unification, health and safety at work has been considered a fundamental pillar of European social policy. Over several decades, the EU institutions developed legislation with minimal provisions. That legislation contributed to a armonization of the situations between member countries and an improvement of the working conditions. However, during the last decade, that development has come to a halt. A mix of political and institutional causes is responsible for this. For the trade unions, the revitalization of health and safety policies and the development of stronger EU legislation in that field should be a crucial priority for the coming years. more...(in German)

Wolfhard Kohte

Inspecting occupational safety and health – international requirements and incentives

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 170–177


The article discusses the requirements of an effective system of monitoring and inspection in occupational health and safety. Basic norms are found in the international area of the ILO Conventions 81 and 187 and in Art. 3 of the European Social Charta. Above all, Art. 4 and 11 of the council directive 89/391/EEC demand adequate supervisory measures and the participation of workers’ representatives in inspection visits. Annual reports of the German federal government display an intensive staff reduction in labour inspections – more than 30 % during the last fifteen years, although their competences and duties are growing. The author discusses some examples of insufficient supervision regarding working time, occupational safety of posted workers and the municipalisation in Baden-Württemberg. Although the German body of the labour inspections (LASI) is committed to better supervision with his new publication LV 1, the general situation of labour inspection in Germany is not acceptable. There is a need for a public debate to minimize the “inspection gap”. A reference point for such a debate can be the report of the European Parliament “Effective labour inspections” - INI 2013/2112 (INI) with the target of one inspector for every 10,000 workers. more...(in German)

Karina Becker, Thomas Engel

Reduction of protection levels for atypical labor

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 178–186


Health and safety protection for atypical labor, precarious work and work in private households has a number of deficiencies. Control and monitoring of recently revised laws has not been effective in preventing deterioration in health and working conditions. This is due to the fact that many instruments of labor and health protection focus mainly on the needs of the permanent staff. And even basic standards of occupational health and safety are not applied within the gray area of precarious employment. Employees outside the company-based organization, such as low-paid solo self-employed or contractors in private households are not protected by uniform standards. It can be expected that standard employment will continue to erode. Especially in times of continued and growing flexibilisation and commodification of labor, the strains on mental health are growing, while the access to ways of tackling work-related mental stress and hazards turns out to be a privilege of those employed in a standard employment relationship. more...(in German)

Tanja Carstensen

New challenges and strain arising from digital and mobile technologies

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 187–193


Work has changed fundamentally in recent years, not least because of the increasing use of digital and mobile information and communication technologies. Central developments have been the dissemination of computers, internet and social media, mobile phones, smartphones, laptops and tablets. This paper explores different problem areas, challenges and strain that have emerged from the use of digital and mobile technologies (among other points de-limination, precarisation and crowdwork, ergonomic deficits, work concentration, diffuse and contradictory expectations, demands for self-presentation) and discusses them with regard to their challenges for occupational health and safety. more...(in German)

Elke Ahlers

Work pressure, work intensification and the (unused) role of risk assessment

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 194–201


Even though work pressure and work intensification are the main impacts on health in today’s world of work, a reduction of those impacts is rarely considered in the context of occupational health and safety. At the same time, however, risk assessments have been developed to reduce those psychomental risks typical of a changing world of work and business. Because of the fact that just few enterprises in Germany take into account psychosocial stress in risk assessments, a lot of potential to reduce psychomental stress is wasted. The causes presented in this article are manifold. They range from a taboo of making public individually experienced mental workload to half-heartedly conducted risk assessments and a lack of practical consequences.
more...(in German)

Britta Schmitt, Andrea Hammer

What kind of companies adopt the process of workplace risk assessment (WRA)?

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 202-211


By converting EU guidelines into national law in 1996 the German legislature obliged all enterprises to conduct workplace risk assessments (WRA). According to the law, WRA is to be understood as a continuous improvement process. However, the frequency and quality of the application of WRA leave a lot to be desired. Latest logistic regression analyses carried out by the “GDA company survey 2011” (N = 6,500) and commissioned by the Joint German OSH Strategy show that the availability of occupational safety experts, the presence of work councils in the company and the obviousness of risks and strains pertaining to a particular branch on the one hand and the degree of conformity companies display in complying with the law on the other hand are positively correlated. Mostly, the same correlations can be reported with regard to the extent of possible dangers arising from incompliance with the regulations, the level of knowledge concerning the rules for WRA implementation, as well as of the proscribed contact frequency with the labour inspection authorities. The findings vary across to company size and branch. These results suggest that the highly demanding character of the statutory obligation must be communicated more clearly, and must include SMEs and branches with lower levels of physical strain.
more...(in German)

Angela Rauch, Silke Tophoven, Johannes Eggs, Anita Tisch

Occupational health and safety factors in advanced working age: an analysis with new analytical potential

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 212–218


Due to demographic change, in the coming years the German population will age and in the long term shrink. Good working conditions, workplaces that support employees’ health and age-appropriate jobs are important prerequisites to ensure healthy aging and a long participation in working life. Especially with regard to the situation of older employees the relationship between psychosocial workloads and health deserves closer inspection. In this article, the "lidA” (leben in der Arbeit) cohort study is presented. It focuses on the relationship between work, aging, labour force participation and health among employees in the baby boomer generation. In the future, occupational health and safety measures should focus increasingly on the psychosocial workload and the preservation of mental health. more...(in German)

Lothar Lißner, Carsten Brück, Andreas Stautz

The Joint German Occupational Health and Safety Strategy – a success?

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 219–227


The evaluation of the first period (2008 to 2012) of the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (‘GDA’) has been completed; the final report was published in June 2014. The overall assessment is positive: The public occupational health and safety authorities and the social accident insurance institutions improved their co-operation, and a range of the self-set strategic goals were achieved. The evaluators also identified weaknesses in initializing procedures. The broad variety of procedures and different methodological approaches in the joint fields of action and the eleven work programmes (‘Arbeitsprogramme’) made it difficult to harmonize the overall assessment of the impact of the strategy. Targeted effects at national level – i.e. reduction of workplace accidents, less absence due to musculoskeletal disorders – were either not fully achieved or the impact of the strategy was not verifiable. For future evaluations of the GDA the evaluators recommend a cautious modification of the newly developed evaluation tools, the use of more impact indicators and additional studies dealing with the context factors. This might enhance the ability of future evaluations to measure and assess the impacts of the strategy with greater precision. more...(in German)

Jan Cremers

Freedom of movement and social policy – has there been progress in the field of health and safety at the workplace?

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 228–231


In this contribution the question is addressed of how the EU Framework Directive and other Directives on health and safety at the workplace have fared alongside the single market. The free movement of workers and the prevalence of subcontracted cross-border work make it necessary to have transnational and uniform occupational health and safety standards in Europe. But the current policy of the EU-Commission in this area showcases a considerable degree of inertia. The impression can be easily gained that mobility is no longer happening, even though the promotion of mobility is one of the primary concerns of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The EU policy in the field of health and safety at the workplace no longer seems to be well-equipped to cope with the problems produced by the single market. Instead, there is a strong tendency to deregulate existing social standards. The design of the single market based on economic freedoms (such as the freedom of movement and the freedom to provide services) is endangering the health of those who put the single market into practice. more...(in German)

Ingo Nürnberger

Occupational health and safety – an important area for trade union involvement

WSI-Mitteilungen 3/2015, pp. 232–234


Against the background of vastly changing patterns in the world of employment in recent years, several challenges regarding occupational health and safety have to be faced. This article introduces five components of a strategy for unions to tackle these challenges. The first two components are closely related and demand new and clear regulations and notably more resources to monitor compliance with these. The third component advocates greater (financial) involvement of the employers. Furthermore, the contribution argues for significantly more rights of co-determination for the works council in the field of occupational health and safety. The final component is aimed at cross-linking social insurances – especially the occupational accident insurance and the statutory health insurance – to improve and connect their measures regarding occupational health and safety. more...(in German)


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