A two-week long seminar tour “On social and trade union policies in Vietnam” was opened with a lecture on “Trade unions and workers councils in Germany” by Peeter Raane – Member of the Executive Board of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung
A two-week long seminar tour under the headline “On social and trade union policies in Vietnam” was opened with the lecture by Peeter Raane (board member RLS) with the title: “Trade unions and workers councils in Germany”. For this purpose, partners and guests of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia (RLS SEA) and Vietnamese trade unionists gathered on the 24th September 2014 in the Hanoi trade union school.
Peeter Raane began his presentation with a historical introduction of the origins of German workers councils and the cooperation with German trade unions. Therefore he pointed out the interrelationship between working conditions, payment and performance – the so called magic triangle. It is important for the daily work of trade unions and workers councils to link these topics because of their interconnected functions.
Furthermore Raane described the work area of German trade unions. First of all he pointed out the assistance for workers councils. Moreover he described the advisory role for policy makers. Emphatically he pointed out the main field of trade union work, working with its members. The important key points in that field are the support of strikes, the legal protection in front of labor courts and the training opportunities for workers councils. He also explained the differences between wage agreements, collective agreements and company agreements, to shine a light on the German legal landscape.
Subsequently, the rights of workers councils were explained in detail. Therefore Raane outlined three different legal fields. First of all, the entrepreneurs have to inform the workers councils over the economic situation of the company and the design of working places. Secondly a right on participation will be given to workers councils in hiring, transfers and terminations of employees. Thirdly the workers councils have a right of co-determination in the areas of working hours, company holidays, overtime and performance related charges. Furthermore, the function of German settlement councils was explained.
Continuing the limits of the workers councils were illustrated, the types of personal disadvantages discussed and the role of entrepreneurs explained. Finally Raane described the differences of workers councils, in size of employees, number of trade union members and the type of profession.
The demand for discussion was huge and many questions were asked. To name but a few the participants discussed about the possible tensions between trade unions and workers councils, opportunities for acquiring new members, funding of German trade unions and workers councils, advantages and disadvantages of the “separation of powers” between trade unions and workers councils and the question, whether and in which way trade union structures could operate without workers councils.