: Issue 04/2021

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 263-273

Hans J. Pongratz

The Digital Employment Industry – a Globally Expanding Business Sector


Digitalised and Internet-accessible staffing services cover a heterogeneous spectrum, includ­ing online job boards, employer assessment platforms and career networks, but also crowdworking platforms for the placement of freelance jobs. By differentiating between these types of platforms, this article provides an overview of the expanding digital employment industry. The context of their development is analysed and potential consequences for the institutional structures of the labour market are discussed. Changes in the spheres of influence as a result of the expansion of private-sector digital agency services can be expected above all from the global activity of temporary employment agencies and Internet groups involved. While crowdworking has recently been intensively discussed and researched, the digitalisation of recruitment has received little attention. This is all the more remarkable as the associated shifts in power, interpretative claims and not least the question of data control pose major socio-political challenges. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 274-283

Knut Tullius

Digitalisation in the Financial Services Sector – Consequences for Front Line-Employees


For several years now, banks and insurance companies in Germany have been undergoing a phase of restructuring and rationalisation, which is characterised by the questioning of previous competitive strategies, organisational structures and employment systems by “data-driven business models” and the technologies on which they are based – there is widespread talk of fundamental upheavals, of “disruption”. However, there is still a lack of empirical evidence on what banks and insurance companies are actually doing in terms of digitisation and restructuring and its effects on the work of employees. Based on findings from ten case studies, this article shows that the consequences for service processes and work associated with current digitisation and systemic rationalisation processes are complex and in part contradictory. It also follows from this that generalised statements on the future of service work, for example in the sense of a general tendency towards “digital Taylorism”, are ignoring the real changes in companies. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 284-295

Martin Behrens

Fluctuation in Works Council Committees


There is little research on how often and why members of works councils resign during a current term of office. As the analysis of data from the WSI works council panel 2015–2018 shows, close to one third of members of works councils resign from their position before the end of the four-year term in office. As the analysis confirms, there are multiple motivations for quitting, among other reasons problems with balancing work and private life, job-related stress as well as conflict with the employer or within the works council. As multivariate estimates show, withdrawal of representatives from the works council is associated with employer behaviour interfering with the legal rights of works councils, a perceived poor relationship between the works council and the establishment’s workforce and a high share of non-standard employment. In contrast, when an establishment is covered by a collective agreement there is a stabilising effect on the continuity of the works council during the term in office. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 296-305

Daniel Behruzi, Ulrich Brinkmann, Tanja Paulitz

Covid-19 Crisis – Stress Test for Codetermination


In all sectors of society and the economy the Covid-19 pandemic reveals existing strengths, but even more so systemic weaknesses. This is also the case for workplace codetermination. In many workplaces, individual and collective rights of employees are openly disregarded – partly as a result of overburdened managers (and workers’ representatives), partly with strategic purpose. In some cases, the regime of “emergency decrees” implemented at the workplace by the executive powers goes so far that management requests works councils to sign a general agreement in order to renounce all codetermination rights. Whether collective rights can be undermined in this way depends strongly on the pre-existing codetermination culture. Other decisive factors for the question of whether codetermination passes the stress test of the pandemic are the assertiveness of the works council, as well as its connection to the trade union and the organisational power of the workforce. The findings suggest that factors such the size of the enterprise, the ownership and the prevailing codetermination law carry less weight. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 306-314

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective Bargaining and Works Councils: Data on Coverage and Development from the IAB Establishment Panel 2020


This article continues the annual reporting on collective bargaining and employee representation at company level with data for 2020. First, the companies’ commitment to collective bargaining agreements are presented by sector and company size. Thereby the still persisting differences between west and east Germany are taken into account. Overall, however, since 1996 collective bargaining coverage in both parts of the country has shown a clear downward trend. Looking at co-determination at the plant level, we also find a distinct downward movement in works council coverage in the long term. Albeit, a recent turnaround in east Germany can be observed, bringing the two parts of the country closer together. Finally, the joint examination of both levels of interest representation points to the extensive gaps in co-determination on the shop floor (betriebliche Vertretungslücken), as well as completely blank spots with no collective agreement as well. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 315-322

Carolin Linckh, Anita Tiefensee

Poverty Despite Regular Employment


For the period 1999–2018, this article analyses the labour market and socio-structural developments of regularly employed people who live below or above the poverty line. The analysis shows an increasing proportion of the regularly employed to be living above the poverty line whereas regular employment among those living below the poverty line has not significantly increased. An above-average number of women increased their labour market participation – many in the form of mini-jobs. Wage developments show that those in continuous employment and not living below the poverty line benefited from wage increases in the twenty year period, whereas this was not the case for those living below the poverty line. In fact, their real hourly wages declined between 1999 and 2012. The analysis of qualification levels since 2006 shows that in the group of the continuously employed, the proportion of the employed without a vocational qualification has increased and in the same period of time, the risk of poverty for this group has also increased. Overall, this analysis reveals that continuous employment does not protect employees against income poverty and (political) measures are necessary. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 323-326

Wolfgang Lemb

Regional Structural Policy in the Age of Transformation – an Appeal for New Action Strategies


Industrial transformation is well underway. Despite this fact, not enough industrial enterprises are addressing this area of production; innovation, future business models and investments are being neglected. Structural policy networks and support services must be provided in the regions close to the companies. Existing approaches and instruments of regional structural policy are too short-sighted. IG Metall is therefore calling for new approaches to regional structural policy that are adapted to the challenges of transformation. IG Metall and its works councils must establish themselves as a strong voice in the regions in order to secure locations and jobs. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 327-329

Florian Blank

Pension Policies: Heading for New Distributional Conflicts?


During the 19th legislative period, the grand coalition of the governing parties have realised many of their plans concerning pension policies. This includes the introduction of a basic pension (Grundrente) and a temporary stabilisation of the benefit level of the public pension insurance. However, these reforms have followed the established paradigm – general questions regarding the future design of the system of old age security have not been answered. The Corona crisis has highlighted the public pension insurance’s role in providing social and macroeconomic stability. Since measures to deal with the crisis and its consequences have put considerable pressure on public budgets, it is far from clear whether the public pension insurance’s virtues will dominate in future social policy debates or rather the costs of old age security. In consequence, conflicts about pension policy will possibly turn into open distributive conflicts. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2021, pp. 330-332

Jutta Schmitz-Kießler

Moving at a Snail's Pace: The Pension Debate from a Woman's perspective


Women still run a considerable risk of being poor in old age. The main reason for falling into poverty is their position and gender-specific disadvantages in working life. These include: lower labour force participation, often lower work volume, work in low-wage segments or lower wages. The pension system cannot compensate for these labour biographical disadvantages, even if the pension policy measures of the recent legislature contain a number of improvements – also or especially for women. Rather, there is an urgent need for proposals that systematically close the gaps in old age security for women. more … (in German)