Date: Fri, 10 Oct 97 09:44:54 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: German Unions Merge
/** labr.global: 337.0 **/
** Topic: German Unions Merge **
** Written 4:57 PM Oct 9, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
/* Written 8:01 AM Oct 7, 1997 by ICEM@GEO2.poptel.org.uk in igc:labr.newsline */
/* ---------- "GERMAN UNIONS MERGE" ---------- */
More than a million German workers have united in the new Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE). The union formally comes into existence this week at its Congress in Hannover. IG BCE, which organises across a wide range of process, energy and extractive sectors, is affiliated at the global level to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).
Elected as IG BCE's first President this afternoon was Hubertus
Schmoldt, who is Vice-President of the ICEM. Up to the present, he
chaired the chemical, paper and ceramic workers' union, now
merging with the mining and energy workers and the leather worke rs to
form IG BCE. Unemployment
remains the main social problem in
Germany, Schmoldt told the Congress yesterday.
That's why our
collective bargaining policy has focussed on job security AND income
security. This would continue, he emphasised, but
our policy of
employm ent security must not be used by others for a backdoor
redistribution away from the workers. Otherwise,
would be inevitable. Purchasing power was determined not only by
collective bargaining, but also by fiscal policy.
Schmoldt restated the German unions' commitment to the social state and the social market economy—concepts that have come under attack of late from sections of German business and politics.
He also emphasised the new union's strong international
Social responsibility, social justice, employment,
education and training, the abolition of child labour, equal rights
and opportunities and trade union freedom—these are just some of
the basic preconditions for a world worth living in. Through our
international and European cooperation, we want to make our
contribution to achieving them ... Worldwide, we must combine our
trade union strengths. Let us struggle jointly for new thinking and
Other speakers at the opening session included Oskar Lafontaine,
President of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD); Joschka
Fischer, Chairman of the environmentalist Buendnis 90/Gruene group in
the Bundestag (lower house of the German federal parliame nt);
Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth; and ICEM General Secretary Vic
Thorpe. Faced with the globalisation of capital, trade unions now had
just two options, Thorpe said:
One is to remain essentially
national-based organisations and to acquiesce in our own
demise—to become, in essence, mere doorkeepers for
capitalism. The other is redefine our movement to be able to intervene
at the new global level where the decisions are made that affect our
members and the communities in which they live. Here, today, you are
redefining a significant part of the German labour movement. It is a n
enormous boost to the work of the ICEM to know that this redefinition
includes from the outset a determinedly international
Lafontaine announced that the SPD will create a new
jobs with the unions and others if Germans vote the party into
federal power next year. The likelihood of that is growing. The SPD is
currently in parliamentary opposition to Chancellor He lmut Kohl's
faltering right-of-centre government.
A society that aims at
demolishing the social state and which accepts without demur the
unjust distribution of the fruits of our joint efforts is not the
society that we want, Lafontaine said.
We want a society that
gets back to social responsibility and community of purpose.
This morning, the Congress heard the report on activities from Hans Berger, ICEM President and until now President of one of IG BCE's constituents, the German mining and energy workers' union. The Congress continues until Friday, including three congresses on Thursday to wind up the affairs of the merging unions.