WSI Mitteilungen 4/2023

: Issue 04/2023

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 243-251

Heike Jacobsen, Matthias Knuth, Virginia Kimey Pflücke

The Labour Market in Lusatia before Coal Phase-out


As an arena for the distribution of opportunities and risks for realising individual life goals, the labour market forms an important point of reference for citizens’ experiences and expectations. In Lusatia, the massive crisis of the employment system after unification overlaps with the new demands on their willingness to change and adapt that have arisen in the course of the politically decided coal phase-out. The lignite industry was then and is now at the centre of these experiences. A restrictive dynamic in the labour market has emerged from the structural collapse of this industry, long-lasting high unemployment, demographic ageing, and changes in the labour force participation of women that are only visible at a second glance. Despite massive financial support for structural change toward a post fossil economy, the crisis experiences of the post socialist transformation shape citizens’ orientations. It is important to recognise this background of experience more explicitly in order to pave the way for a successful socio-ecological transformation. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 252-260

Valentin Niebler, Moritz Altenried, Stefania Animento

Confronting Fragmentation


Organising Migrant Cleaning Workers in the Platform Economy This article addresses the question of labour, collective resources and the organising of migrant workers on the cleaning platform Helpling in Berlin. Based on qualitative research in Berlin, the authors explain why labour and collective action on cleaning platforms take place in different forms than in other platform companies. The article argues that the spatial distribution among private households, the absence of shared socialisation and the legal framework of these business models make organising labour on platforms like Helpling difficult. The authors argue at the same time that these factors do not prevent organising and social struggles, but instead change their forms. Workers on Helpling in Berlin organise mainly in informal mutual aid groups, with the help of a workers’ centre and political groups. These circumstances give rise to both potentials and hurdles for the development of collective counter-power, which are also relevant for the analysis of other forms of platform labour. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 261-270

Felix Wilke, Mareike Sielaff

When Legal Entitlement is not Enough. Non-take-up as a Legitimacy Problem


Although there is a broad consensus regarding a general responsibility of the welfare state to support people in need, basic income benefits such as Unemployment Benefit II or old-age basic income support are often not claimed. One major reason for non-take-up is the widespread reservations that exist in society: for many people a legal entitlement alone is not sufficient ; to justify the claim for benefits there must also be a socially recognised need for financial support. Increased emphasis on the principle of personal responsibility within the active welfare state has strengthened these reservations to claim benefits. The article uses the GSOEP Innovation Sample (2020 / 2021) to set out how reservations about claiming basic income support are expressed empirically. By means of multivariate analysis, it is shown that the legitimacy for claiming benefits varies with individual interests, norms of personal responsibility and the overall political attitude. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 271-279

Eike Matthies, Jörg Thomä, Jörg Lahner

Dual Vocational Education and Training, Learning Environment and Innovation Capacity of Micro Enterprises


In this article the contribution of dual vocational education and training (VET) to the innovative capacity of smaller firms with less than ten employees is examined. Results show that dual VET in micro enterprises promotes direct interaction between dual apprenticeships and the presence of a work environment conducive to learning which facilitates technological innovation. In addition, there is a further effect – qualitative studies suggest a chain of effects that goes beyond simple interaction: participation in dual VET provides incentives to implement organisational changes, which in the next step are a relevant driver of technological innovation in micro enterprises. According to this view, dual VET also promotes firm-level innovativeness indirectly by first strengthening the learning capacity of the micro enterprise. The authors analyse this chain of effects quantitatively based on mediation analysis using German panel data with a focus on micro enterprises and discuss their findings against the backdrop of the persistent decline in dual VET participation in the German micro enterprise ­sector. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 280-295

Thilo Janssen, Malte Lübker

WSI European Collective Bargaining Report 2022 / 2023 – Real Wages Collapse across Europe Due to Inflation Shock


The economic framework for collective bargaining in the European Union is currently characterized by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the energy crisis and rapidly increasing consumer prices. As a result, the purchasing power of wages in the EU-27 fell by 4.0 % last year ; for 2023, the European Commission forecasts a further drop in real wages of 0.7 %. Because import prices are now receding, the persistence of inflation is mainly due to domestic factors. The data show that the development of negotiated wages cannot explain the high inflation rates of the past few months. With nominal growth of 2.8 % in 2022, they continued to move within the framework consistent with stability. This is in contrast to the expansion of profit margins, which is a major contributor to domestic inflation and makes companies the winners of inflation. In the midst of the crisis, there is a problematic redistribution away from wages and in favour of capital income. Europe’s trade unions have recently reacted to this with higher wage settlements. The currently elevated profit margins provide a buffer to absorb increases in unit labour costs. A normalization of profit margins is a possible way to overcome the problem of high inflation, falling real wages and shifts in the functional income distribution. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 296-304

Sabine Pfeiffer

Double Transformation in the Automotive Industry. Which Technologies Have Arrived at the Workplace


Research into the double transformation in the automotive industry is strongly dominated by quantitative forecasts on future job losses. Digitalisation and electromobility are often not considered in context. Studies on the current and double transformation dynamics are still rare. This article provides a quantitative snapshot of the status of the transformation from the employees’ point of view. The question is which concrete technologies of digitalisation and electromobility (in which combination) have already arrived at workplaces in the automotive industry. The empirical basis is an online survey with over 4100 employees in the industry. After methodological details on the survey, sample and weighting, descriptive evaluations trace the breadth of the digital and ecological transformation in the industry and show the distribution of diverse technologies along central sample characteristics (gender, age, qualification, occupation) – first separately and then in combination. The data generates a technologically differentiated insight into the state of the double transformation at the workplace level within the German automotive sector. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 305-311

Carsten Wirth

Working from Home and Works Councils: New Challenges for an “Old Hand”


The study “Working from home and works councils” examines whether perceptions relating to working from home are changing, what challenges this form of work generates for works councils, how works councils deal with it and what economic effects emerge. It is shown that in the wake of the pandemic the views of management regarding working from home are changing, whereas works councils retain their role as promoters. Furthermore, the results indicate that working from home will probably be part of a new normal. Works councils will then face a variety of challenges. Communicating with the workforce and activating them are proving to be central problems. These difficulties are being countered primarily with a virtualisation of works council work, the utilisation of co-determination rights and an “open ear policy”. From the perspective of works councils, in most cases working from home increases efficiency. It contributes to the economisation through the removal of boundaries, resulting in lower coordination costs and expenses for offices as well as by a higher pro­ductivity. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 312-316

Dietmar Erdmeier

Live-in Care: Alternatives to Systematic Breaches of Law


Against the background of the demographic development, the need for the care and nursing of the elderly and care-dependent persons is growing. For many the promises of the so-called 24-hour care, whereby the care-dependent remain in their own homes, is tempting. However, this model is only possible with systematic violations of existing laws governing health and safety and individual privacy regulations. The quality and safety aspects of the care are also drawn into question. These aspects are documented in studies and court decisions that make it clear that German law must be adhered to in the employment contracts. The conclusions must be: the expansion of care provisions, the offer of household support and the development of the current care insurance to a needs-based nursing care insurance grounded in solidarity and responsibility. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 317-320

Sophie C. Jänicke

„In the Mood for Good Work” – Collectively Agreed Working Time Policy in the IG Metall


The article describes the renaissance of collectively agreed working time policy in IG Metall since the mid-2010s. With the 2018 collective bargaining movement, IG Metall has broken new ground in collective bargaining policy: For the first time, individual options for employees between money and time were agreed for the metal and electrical industry. Since the 2020s, the idea of the collective reduction of working hours has been gaining importance again – as an instrument for securing employment during the pandemic and transformation, but also because employees' interest in a good work-life balance is growing. From IG Metall's point of view, the four-day week can be an answer to the question of how structural change in industry can succeed and what good work can look like in the future. more … (in German)

WSI-Mitteilungen 4/2023, pp. 321-323

Angelika Kümmerling

Working Time in Crisis – no Time for More Work or Just not up for it?


In the wake of the shortage of skilled workers, there have been growing demands for longer working hours. While employers' associations are calling for longer working hours and the abolition of the maximum daily working time limit in favour of weekly working time, the German government's strategy provides, among other things, for a further increase in the participation of women in the labour force, also by granting more flexibility in working hours. Based on the development of female employment, existing working time preferences and the debate about the potential of working time flexibility, the article argues that approaches towards increasing working time and working time flexibility alone are not sufficient to counter the shortage of skilled workers. This requires a concerted effort at various levels: including the expansion and better integration of employee-oriented flexible working time instruments while at the same time protecting against a reduction in rest periods, the redistribution of care work and the replacement of the prevailing full-time/part-time dualism in favour of a full-time working time standard, as well as massive investments in the quantitative and qualitative expansion of social services. more … (in German)