- 2014 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
- 15 February 2014
Germany has recovered from the economic downturn of the past few years faster than most and shown sustainable growth year upon year despite major upheavals and changes such as re-unification. Many economists are convinced this is due to Mitbestimmung or Co-determination law. This law underpinning industrial and company policy in Germany requires that between a third and just under half of companies’ supervisory board members are workers representatives (the shareholders appointing the remaining members). Therefore private companies employing over 2000 employees can have trade union or other worker representatives filling up to half the seats whilst those employing between 500 and 2000 can have up to one third.
This supervisory board then elects a management board. This management board with its workers representatives oversees the day to day running of the company whilst the supervisory board monitors the management board, keeps them in touch with the workforce and plays an equal role in investment and financial discussions. In Germany job security is considered as important as profits and a direct correlation would seem obvious. Management and workers are truly ‘in it together’ during both good and bad times.
United Utilities and Severn Trent are examples of private companies in the WET sector with workforces in excess of 2000. There are some smaller water and transport companies also privately owned. We have large companies such as Morrisons contracted to water companies whose members are also in this sector. In Germany other variations on Mitbestimmung exist in public companies. These may benefit the likes of Scottish Water, Welsh Water, the Environment Agency and publicly owned bus companies and airports. Mitbestimmung has stood the test of time and if the British government thought it was a good idea when they imposed it on German industry in 1945, why would they or our employers dispute it now?
This motion proposes our sector group works with progressive thinkers such as Ruskin College, university contacts, NEC, Labour Link and other relevant sections within UNISON to plan a strategy on how this co-determination model could be adapted and introduced within a reasonable time-frame to eligible companies and entities in the WET sector who would consider this a positive step forward in working relationships and protecting their members jobs and terms and conditions.
Mitbestimmung has stood the test of time and if the British government thought it was a good idea when they imposed it on German industry in 1945, why would they or our employers dispute the principles behind it now?