WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022

: Issue 04/2022

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 267-276

Richard Detje, Martin Kronauer, Dieter Sauer, Michael Schumann

How Valid is the Promise of Progress? The Programme of the New Governing “Traffic Light Coalition” (red-green-yellow)


The new “traffic light coalition” (red-green-yellow representing the participating parties) commenced its term of office with the claim to “dare more progress“, and against this claim the coalition programme should be measured. This is what the article sets out to do. It demonstrates that the ambitious goal of ecological transformation in the programme repeatedly collides with the underlying concept of progress as growth, competitiveness and technical efficiency. A stern commitment to balanced budgets and opposition to redistributive measures further narrows down the range of possible political action. This has particularly negative consequences with regard to issues of social inequality which are barely addressed in the programme. Looking at the change of government in the context of the international debate about the potential demise of “neoliberalism“, Germany is an example of course modification rather than change in direction. The implications in times of ecological and social crises are discussed with a particular focus on the challenges for trade unions. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 277-285

Sebastian Dullien, Katja Rietzler, Achim Truger

The Corona Crisis and the Socio-Ecological Transformation: Challenges for German Fiscal Policy


The Corona crisis and the socio-ecological transformation pose difficult challenges for German fiscal policy. On the one hand, there are massive additional public finance requirements in the dimension of 600 to 800 billion euros over the next ten years ; on the other hand, in its coalition agreement the German government has ruled out fundamental reforms of the debt brake while not envisaging any tax increases. These rules out options that would actually be obvious for opening up the necessary fiscal policy space. However, the coalition agreement contains numerous instruments for mobilising additional borrowing under the debt brake, which are in principle suitable for meeting the key challenges facing the federal government in the coming years, even if the specific form they take is still open, concrete figures are lacking and legal risks exist. The situation is more problematic for the states and municipalities. There is a high risk that investments, especially by local authorities, will fall short of requirements in the coming years. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 286-295

Karin Gottschall, Anton Nivorozhkin, Markus Promberger

Employment Promotion for the Long-Term Unemployed – a Contribution to the Reduction of Inequalities?


2020 and 2021 found the German labour market still quite robust, despite the Covid-19 crisis. Nevertheless, a stable proportion of long-term unemployed shows that some groups face continuous problems reintegrating into paid labour, even under the positive labour market conditions of those past years. In addition, it can be assumed that the situation on the German labour market will no longer improve, given the worldwide effects of the war in Ukraine. Against this background, criticism of the activating labour market policies installed by the Hartz-Laws in the early 2000s is still prominent. An ongoing policy debate refers to the question of whether job uptake support for the long-term jobless would better be achieved on the regular labour market or through a second, subsidised, so-called “social” labour market. The new law on labour market participation opportunities in 2019 (Teilhabechancengesetz) emphasises the latter, although it offers both options. The article investigates whether the new regulations provide better cover for disadvantaged groups than the previous instruments. Additionally, in the light of intersecting inequalities, the authors address the question of policy trends of de- or recommodification of labour. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 296-303

Bettina Kohlrausch

What Rights Does the „Working Sovereign“ Need? Ideas for a Further Development of Industrial Citizenship Rights


Industrial citizenship rights are those rights that are directly linked to the status a working person has. They ensure material and democratic participation, create social cohesion, guarantee social recognition and structure the socialisation of individuals. This article analyses the role of industrial citizenship rights for processes of social integration and shows that gainful employment can enable not only material but also social and democratic participation, and that these four aspects only guarantee actual social integration when they interact. The emphasis on the interplay of all aspects is central because it makes clear that democratic participation in the context of gainful employment cannot be thought of independently of other forms of participation. The point is that democratic participation presupposes social integration. Based on these considerations, the article discusses limits of the concept and cornerstones for a possible further development, among other things, with regard to the lack of inclusion of unpaid care work and to date the exclusive focus on the national context and therewith the too narrow framework for industrial citizenship. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 304-313

Günther Schmid

A European Work-Life-Insurance? In the Footsteps of the Revolutionary Immanuel Kant


The crises of recent years have repeatedly given new impetus to labour market policy at the European level. With its initiatives for a European unemployment re-insurance scheme, a European minimum wage, a European Youth Guarantee, and – most recently – European Social Bonds the EU has become an actor in the field of labour market policy that complements or supports national activities. The Covid-19 crisis could be a window of opportunity to further develop the European Social Fund through certain elements of work-life-insurance. The aim should not only be to respond in European solidarity to cyclical or pandemic labour market crises, but also to enhance the national capacities for social protection against income risks during the whole work-life course. The innovation of this article is to argue for a work-life-insurance on the basis of Kant’s triad “freedom, equality, self-reliance”. Kant’s concept of “civic self-reliance” – instead of “solidarity” – turns out to be quite fruitful when arguing for a right to decent work based on sound legal institutions. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 314-327

Malte Lübker, Thilo Janssen

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report 2021 / 2022 – Collective Bargaining in Times of Crisis, War, and Inflation


Collective bargaining in Europe is currently confronted with a multitude of uncertainty factors: Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine since February 2022 is dampening prospects for a continuation of the economic recovery that began in 2021. Significant losses in purchasing power for employees and negative distributional effects of inflation are on the horizon for 2022. On the other hand, there are warnings of possible risks of a spiral of rising prices and wages. The collective bargaining parties are thus faced with an unusually complex situation. Against this background, this European Collective Bargaining Report looks at possible risks and potentials for collective bargaining policy. Calculating the distribution margin based on productivity development and the HICP and, alternatively, the GDP deflator as the price index of domestic value added suggests a negative distribution balance from the employees’ perspective. This implies that it is not wage development but profit inflation that drives prices up. To improve the governance capacity of wage policy in view of the regional and sectoral challenges of the crises, a strengthening of the institutional framework for collective bargaining at both European and national level could be promising. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 328-337

Peter Ellguth, Susanne Kohaut

Collective Bargaining and Works Councils: Data on Coverage and Development from the IAB Establishment Panel 2021


This article continues the annual reporting on collective bargaining and company level representation by works councils with data for 2021. First, the companies’ commitment to collective bargaining agreements are presented by company size and economic sectors. Thereby the still persisting differences between west and east Germany are taken into account. 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 run. Finally, the joint examination of both levels of interest representation points to the extensive gaps in representation and co-determination on the shop floor (betriebliche Vertretungslücken) and also completely blank spots with no collective agreement at all. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2022, pp. 337-341

Hans-Jürgen Urban

Developing Trade Union Strategies in the Ecological Transformation


Trade unions are faced with the historic task of contributing to the transition from the current capitalist growth economy to a socially and ecologically sustainable development model. What is ultimately required is the overcoming of a growth-driven regime of accumulation which sooner or later will collide with the limits of nature. For this reason, trade unions must go beyond safeguarding the employment, income and social interests of their members and participate in the conception, legitimisation and realisation of the new development model. This demands corresponding strategy formation on the basis of an extended political mandate. more … (in German)