: Issue 06/2018

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 439-447

Kerstin Jürgens

The socially integrative power of work


Technological progress challenges societies in a new manner. Innovative ways of communication and cooperation are opening up in the working world. Furthermore, completely new business models, working routines and regulation forms have emerged. Not only time-proven institutions in the working sphere are feeling the pressure, but the working population is becoming aware of a rapid change in work requirements and areas of employment. Following a temporary state of shock, it seems as if movement is under way in the configuration of digitalisation. But although numerous expert opinions specifically address how a digital economy may be regulated, there are only few political reactions. Consequently, the socially integrative power of work remains recklessly underestimated. The article is a plea for the adjustment of those tradition-rich institutions and sets of rules, resulting in technological progress which also becomes social innovation. At the same time it must be ensured that we do not lose sight of existing German social issues because if technologically-induced uncertainty is added to polarised participation chances and distinctive economic inequality, then the Social Security Code will be put under significant pressure. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 448-455

Marius R. Busemeyer

Old and new challenges for a socially just education policy


This article is a critical discussion of recent education reforms in Germany. Particular attention is paid to developments in the sectors of early childhood education and care, school policies and vocational education and training. From a social justice perspective, the broad direction of reform dynamics in these areas is positive. The core thesis of this article is, however, that there is a danger that many of the recent reforms will stop at the half-way mark. The partial implementation of reforms entails the risk of exacerbating existing educational and social inequalities rather than mitigating them – as this article shows in several examples. Progressive education reforms are therefore often confronted with the dilemma of promoting equality-enhancing reforms, which may create new kinds of inequalities. Furthermore, the article also devotes attention to the topic of how the digital transformation of the world of work influences vocational education and training. Most probably, the rapidly proceeding automation and digitalisation of employment will reinforce existing centrifugal forces in the German vocational training system. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 456-467

Matthias Knuth

Labour market policies as an inclusion project?


In the long-term evolution of labour market policies, one observes shifts of inclusion and exclusion in succession, simultaneously and sometimes in entanglement with each other. However, since around the turn of the millennium until very recently, changes towards exclusion dominated the systems of benefits as well as active support. Tendencies towards increasing polarisation of life situations in society are not counteracted by a labour market policy that is currently divided into two regimes. The objectives and fundamental logics of these two regimes are partially at odds with each other, which augments experiences and perceptions of social polarisation. Current tentative search movements for a way out are characterised by indecision and lack of orientation. Yet another wave of reforms at the instrumental level would require a fundamental readjustment of the “regime logics” of unemployment insurance on the one hand and minimum income support on the other. The article delineates some proposals for such an endeavor. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 468-475

Bernhard Ebbinghaus

Privatisation and marketisation in pension policy: Uncertain future for the German multi-pillar model


Within seven decades, the German system of old-age security has undergone a paradigm shift from the Bismarckian model of pay-as-you-go pension insurance to the liberal multi-pillar model. Under the given fiscal constraints and facing future demographic ageing, the aim of guaranteeing living standards in old age has been shifted from state to private pillars. The voluntary -pre-funded “Riester” pension cannot sufficiently close the future pension gap. In addition, the recent financial market crisis has also shown the limits of funded pensions and occupational pensions require further expansion by the social partners to withstand challenges. The pension reforms thus far have been insufficient to protect against the increasing poverty risks among older people in a more flexibilised working society. A better minimum income protection within the pension insurance scheme and a broader coverage of supplementary pensions is needed to achieve both social and political sustainability in the future. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 476-484

Ute Klammer

Achievements, shortcomings and future challenges in gender equality policy


This article deals with the foundations, developments and current challenges facing gender equality policy as a contribution to an inclusive social policy. Based on the results of the First and Second Equality Report for Germany and further analyses, progress and deficits of equality and gender equality policy in Germany and Europe are examined. Based on three perspectives on equality policy, problems of this policy field are pointed out. Firstly, the focus is on the inconsistent signals of gender equality policy due to the design of German labour market and social policy, combined with the observation of increasing intersectional inequalities. Secondly, the complexity of gender equality policy in the multi-level political system is problematised. Finally, the de facto loss of significance and the economically motivated narrowing of gender equality policy in the EU in times of austerity are discussed. In the final section, desiderata for a strengthening of equality policy structures and approaches at the company level are outlined. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 485-496

Anke Hassel, Wolfgang Schroeder

Trade union membership policy and social partnership in Germany


German trade unions have suffered for decades from declining membership, representation gaps and problems enforcing strong collective bargaining. The article analyses the pattern of union membership in an international comparison and discusses new approaches towards trade union membership policies. It thereby focuses on systematic approaches of organising strategies in the metal sector and the increasing use of membership surveys in order to establish members’ preferences and strengthen the legitimacy of trade union strategies in collective bargaining. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6 / 2018, pp. 497-504

Maria Funder

Quo vadis works council? Development trends in employee participation


The two pillars of worker participation and co-determination at the sectoral level are both still considered stable – at least with regard to the power of the regulative level (the Works Constitution and the autonomy of collective bargaining). However, at the same time erosion processes in employee participation are becoming apparent. The article explores the status o the works council institution in the late-modern world of work and outlines current findings on the development of employee participation. The main focus is on the simultaneity of stability and erosion, as well as identifying where a start must be made to ensure the sustainability of the future of the institution of the works council. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6/2018, pp. 505-512

Dorothee Spannagel

Persistent poverty and consolidated wealth. WSI report on income distribution 2018


The annual WSI report on the distribution of income gives evidence that both poverty and wealth are consolidating. Based on data from the GSOEP, it is analysed how the share of people living in persistent poverty or persistent wealth has developed since the early 1990s. The data shows: above all poverty has become entrenched, but also wealth is becoming more permanent. These processes are most noticeable in East Germany. This entrenchment of poverty and wealth has grave socio-political consequences. Individuals suffering from persistent poverty are more at risk of being marginalised and excluded from society. While consolidated wealth threatens to become a closed circle which increasingly becomes distanced from the centre of society. To prevent a drift in these two opposing directions and particularly to combat poverty, reforms in the education system and labour market are necessary to improve social cohesion. In addition, measures to foster the social integration of all levels of society are needed. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6/2018, pp. 513-517

Reiner Hoffmann

Political challenges facing trade unions from the perspective of the DGB


The promise of prosperity offered by the social market economy is crumbling. Fear of social exclusion and concerns for the future are increasing, driven by the observed far-reaching changes in the working world, and the right-wing populists are profiting from this growing uncertainty. To counteract this, the central challenge facing the DGB is to push through a policy of social progress. To this end the trade unions need to expand their power resources, which have been significantly weakened in recent decades. This road will lead to an expansion of interests, in the political and cultural mandates of trade unions. In the coming years, the DGB and its member trade unions aim to create a process of social dialogue, asking how individuals want to live and work in the future and how democratic and social cohesion in Germany and Europe can be strengthened. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6/2018, pp. 518-521

Jörg Hofmann, Tanja Smolenski

New capitalism? Our answer: trade unions and a welfare state that are able to deal with conflict


The current transformation of our working society is more than a radical change of the technological-organisational basis for adding value. It is also a threat to today’s welfare state. Trade union solidarity is the indispensable power resource by which we achieve ‘good work’ and secure employment prospects in companies and society at large. In times of transformation the crumbling promises of wealth and security of the welfare state must be given new strengths in order to ensure social cohesion. In the 2018 collective bargaining round in the metal and engineering industry, IG Metall offered proof that well-organised trade unions with strong membership can function with a participatory approach and promote solidarity amongst the work force so that they can successfully realise their emancipatory tasks in present day capitalism. more... (in German) 

WSI-MITTEILUNGEN 6/2018, pp. 522-526

Frank Bsirske, Klaus Busch

The social and political costs of the austerity policies – a weakening of the trade unions and a strengthening of right-wing populism


The harsh austerity policies and their social and political costs are well on the way to creating the biggest economic and political crisis in the eurozone and the European Union since the end of the Second World War. The social costs are reflected in high unemployment, neo-liberal labour market reforms, a de-collectivisation of collective bargaining agreements and a weakening of the trade unions. The political costs are to be seen in a strengthening of right-wing populism. The growing trend towards right-wing populism and nationalism in Europe can only be overcome through an alternative European economic and social model, which would also enable the trade unions to engage in a re-collectivisation of collective bargaining agreements and a revival of European coordination in wage policy. more... (in German)