WSI Mitteilungen

: Issue 04/18

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)