: Issue 02/2021

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 87-97

Sigurt Vitols, Robert Scholz

Workers on the Board and Long-term Investment in German Companies


A recurring debate in the academic community and among policymakers is whether financial markets are plagued by short-termism. Short-term investors pressure the companies they are investing in to pay out available resources in the form of stock buybacks or increased dividends, rather than investing in long-term projects, even when such long-term investments are expected to be quite profitable in the future. However, there has been hardly any investigation into the influence that board-level employee representation (or BLER for short) may have on company investment policies. This article makes two contributions to the literature. First, it uses a unique six-component measure of codetermination strength in German companies, the Mitbestimmungsindex (MB-ix), which is a very differentiated indicator for worker influence in corporate governance than most quantitative studies. Second, robust regression models are used to deal with the strong influence of extreme outliers in the data. Based on a sample of more than 200 companies listed on the German stock market between 2006 and 2018, it is shown that the strength of BLER (as measured by the MB-ix) is significantly (and positively) related to the rate of capital investment. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 98-105

Thomas Paster, Dennie Oude Nijhuis, Maximilian Kiecker

Employer Attitudes toward the Statutory Extension of Bargaining Coverage in Germany and the Netherlands


The statutory extension of multi-employer collective agreements to non-organised firms is used in many European countries to shore up bargaining coverage. From the perspective of employers bound to collective agreements, statu­tory extension has both advantages and disadvantages. This article investigates the attitudes towards statutory extensions of employers’ associations in Germany and in the Netherlands. It is shown that Dutch employers’ associations view statutory extensions much more positively than the German ones. These differences in employer attitudes explain the wider use of extensions in the Netherlands. The differences in employer attitudes in turn are the result of different historical experiences and different assessments of the effects of wage competition by non-covered firms. In Germany, moreover, conflicts among employers have resulted in a decline in the use of extensions, while in the Netherlands a consensus among employers across all industries facilitates the statutory extension of collective agreements. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 106-115

Markus Hertwig, Oliver Thünken, Sissy Morgenroth, Alrun Fischer

When Employers Hinder Participation – Counterstrategies of Employees, Works Councils and Trade Unions


The article examines how employers hinder the work of works councils and unions and which strategies and practices the employee side uses as a counter-reaction. On the basis of 28 case studies from various sectors and a total of 85 interviews with works councils, union secretaries, employees, employer representatives and experts, six central dimensions of the employees’ fight against union busting and the obstruction of works councils are discussed. Our analysis of successful and failed conflicts points to a wide range of very different paths of employee strategies. The findings indicate that committed actors, the backing of the workforce and a strategic approach involving several participating actors such as unions and social networks (NGOs) are success factors. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 116-126

Toralf Pusch, Verena Tobsch, Tanja Schmidt, Chiara Santoro

Effects of the German Statutory Minimum Wage on Net Household Income and the Receipt of Means-tested Transfer Payments


The effects of the statutory minimum wage on disposable incomes in Germany have been little studied to date. Descriptive analyses carried out with the PASS survey dataset show significant income increases, in particular for employees in eastern Germany. These results are confirmed with unconditional quantile regressions. Increases in the net household incomes of dependent employees range up to the 25-percentage point of the disposable income distribution for the year 2018. Furthermore, our descriptive analyses show that the transition from employment with means-tested transfer benefit payments to employment without transfer benefit payments was increased particularly between the years 2014–15 and 2015–16, which coincides with the introduction of the minimum wage. Using panel model estimates, we can confirm a reduction in the share of workers with means-tested transfer payments following the introduction of the minimum wage. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 127-139

Malte Lübker, Thorsten Schulten

WSI Minimum Wage Report 2021: Is Europe on a Path Towards Adequate Minimum Wages?


In late 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a new directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union. However, many national statutory minimum wages currently fail to provide a decent living as they are set below of 60 % of median wages and 50 % of average wages: two thresholds that are commonly used at the international level to assess their adequacy. As the current edition of the WSI Minimum Wage Report documents, substantial minimum wage hikes would be required in most countries to meet this goal. International experience demonstrates that this would be a feasible objective in the medium term – despite the current moderate pace of minimum wage growth against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, minimum wages grew at a median rate of only 3.1 % across the European Union, or 1.6 % when adjusted for inflation. Raising minimum wages in line with the respective thresholds would directly benefit 25.3 million workers in the European Union, among them 6.8 million in Germany. The Commission’s initiative therefore also underlines the need for policy makers to act in Germany, where 60 % of the median wages translates into a minimum wage of approximately 12 €. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 140-150

Thorsten Schulten, WSI-Tarifarchiv

Annual Report 2020: German Collective Bargaining under the Conditions of the Covid-19 Pandemic


The current annual collective bargaining report of the WSI Collective Agreement Archive contains a comprehensive analysis of the 2020 bargaining round and gives an overview of the demands and results as well as a calculation of the annual wage increases. In 2020 collectively agreed wages grew on average 2.0 % in nominal terms. As the inflation rate was only 0.5 % there was a significant 1.5 % increase in real ­wages. Thus, even under the difficult conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, collective bargaining policy has made an important contribution to stabilising incomes. However, fewer and fewer workers in Germany are covered by a collective agreement. Strengthening collective bargaining coverage is therefore one of the most important challenges. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 151-159

Ulrich Walwei

Forms of Employment in Times of Crisis: What follows from Corona?


During recent decades, the composition of employment forms has changed significantly. There are mostly structural reasons for the long-term growth of employment forms such as part-time employment, fixed-term contracts, agency work and one-person-businesses. Amongst other issues the changing requirements of firms regarding their personnel policies, a redefinition of work during the individuals’ life cycle and regulatory adjustments have all played an important role. In addition, economic crises can influence the distribution of employment forms because they may affect industries differently and – in the case of a subsequent labour-market crisis – alter the market power of employees. The article shows that past economic crises had affected mainly full-time permanent employment as well as agency work because the manufacturing industry was mainly concerned. During the Covid-19 pandemic first results show that part-time employment implying a low monthly income (so-called mini-jobs) and one-person-businesses were affected heavily for the first time. Because these employment forms are hardly protected in terms of social security, the suitability of existing regulations needs to be put under scrutiny. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 160-170

Berndt Keller, Toralf Pusch, Hartmut Seifert

Midi-jobs: The Unknown Variant of Atypical Employment


Midi-jobs have so far been largely ignored in the debate on atypical forms of employment in Germany. This empirically-based article not only describes the extent and development of this form of employment, but also sheds light on structural characteristics. Midi-jobs are predominantly part-time employment, mainly performed by women and more likely to be in the intermediate age groups. Midi-jobbers are on average somewhat less qualified than the other employees subject to social insurance contributions and work in rather simple jobs, widespread mainly in service sectors. They earn lower hourly wages and mobility rates are seen to be higher when examining movement both in and out of employment. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 2/2021, pp. 171-175

Jörg Hofmann, Katrin Mohr

Safeguarding the Future in the Face of the Pandemic and Transformation


The corona pandemic is accelerating transformation in the branches of IG Metall and the results of the employee survey held in 2020 reveal a pronounced sense of uncertainty amongst employees, including the core workforce. For this reason the IG Metall has made safeguarding the future and employment a central theme of the current collective bargaining round. The challenge for the concern is to find new strategies – and in addition, to invest in future-oriented technology and innovation - in order to secure sustainable employment in the production locations. Negotiations between works councils and employers must also be supported by the State and change in industry and employment must be flanked by education and labour market policies. Only through collaborative efforts between State, collective bargaining and codetermination bodies can socio-ecological transformation be successfully and fairly constructed. more … (in German)