While Germany’s trade unions may have, after many years of painful restructuring and reform, succeeded in stemming a membership slide, the same cannot be said for companies that continue to opt out of sector collective agreements (Tarifflucht); a phenomenon that since the end of the 90s has been becoming increasingly more marked. In 1998, 76% of employees in the west of the country were covered by a collective agreement. The corresponding percentage in 2018 was just 56%. In the former East German Länders, this percentage has fallen from 63% to 45%. Germany’s trade unions have put forward several proposals to try and buck a trend that is weakening the co-determination process; so for instance the requirement to link public project assignments to collective agreement determined social and salary minima. However since the topic is quite technical in nature, the employee representation organizations have struggled to gain widespread popular traction. In light of this, the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) has just presented an ‘Atlas of collective agreement breakdowns’ that details on a per region and national basis information on the consequences and revenue losses for the taxation authorities, the social insurance schemes, and the local community authorities. National and regional data and forecasts from this Atlas (here in German) also show that if all employees worked within a collective agreement then the taxation and social insurance bodies would gain an additional €41 billion annually (€14.9 billion for taxation and €24.8 billion for social insurance).
Germany : German Trade Union Confederation presents an atlas of collective agreement withdrawals
Planet Labor, 8 October 2019, n°11400 - www.planetlabor.com