Euro Greens & the Third Way (was Re: Rain)

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Nov 21 08:55:56 MST 2000

I wrote:

> What is represantative for mainstream Green politics you can read here:
> The Greens are demanding now wages below the standards reached through
> collective bargainining! Neoliberal positions are now the mainstream witin
> the Green party.

Since the link above is in German, here is an account in English from
today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Note the rather mild criticism by Kerstin Müller, it is rather tactical than
a principled one.


Schröder Dismisses Suggestion

F.A.Z. BERLIN. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder let his fellow Social Democrats
know on Monday that a wage-agreement proposal advanced by some members of
his coalition partner was going nowhere.

Other members of the coalition partner, Alliance 90/The Greens, also joined
in criticizing the idea.

The suggestion came from a Greens parliamentary leader, Rezzo Schlauch. In a
magazine interview released over the weekend, Mr. Schlauch said he wanted to
allow companies threatened with bankruptcy to pay wages below the levels set
in negotiated agreements.

On Monday, Green social policy spokeswoman Thea Dückert explained the
thinking behind the plan. Ms. Dückert said the plan was aimed at allowing
workers' councils to make plant-specific agreements to preserve jobs whose
existence was endangered. "The point is to permit a flexible response to
emergencies," she said. She told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, to
do this, the section of the collective bargaining law on the advantage rule
should be changed. This rule allows labor contracts to deviate from
collective bargaining agreements only when the changes are in the employees'
favor. Labor judges interpret the regulation so narrowly that workers'
councils cannot agree to renounce wages or to do more work, even to preserve

In the real world, though, workers' councils in endangered companies
repeatedly find themselves in situations in which, to avoid company
insolvency and employee layoffs, they need to agree to wage cuts and limited
additional work, Ms. Dückert said. She expects that clauses to loosen
collective bargaining laws and regulated procedures to permit plant-specific
job-saving agreements in crises could provide more freedom of action.

"We need changes in the collective-bargaining law, because up to now,
plant-specific agreements on temporary renunciation of pay are not
possible," she noted.

Mr. Schröder, attending the Social Democrats' party council meeting, said
the idea was going nowhere and he reminded the Greens of the coalition
agreement that legislation would be introduced only in tandem.

Labor Minister Walter Riester and leading trade unions also rejected the
idea. In a television interview, Mr. Riester said he had not seen any
details of the proposal. But the former union leader said he was not
prepared to take part in overhauling Germany's collective-bargaining law.

The idea generated criticism among the Greens as well. Parliamentary leader
Kerstin Müller said the proposal was "not balanced" and that she was
"skeptical' about it. Ms. Müller sought to clarify the matter with Mr.
Schlauch on Monday. She said it would have been better if the matter had
been discussed internally and with the unions before publicizing it. She
said she also looked skeptically at the idea of setting wages below those
set by collective bargaining, even in emergencies.

Hans Olaf Henkel, the president of the Federation of German Industry, said
the Greens' suggestion did not go far enough. He told this newspaper that
correcting the rule of advantage was necessary, but that it was more
important to end the primacy of collective bargaining.

He also warned the Greens against creating new exemptions for troubled
companies. "We don't need any more prescriptions for patients who are
already half dead," he said. It is more important to determine why companies
run into trouble, Mr. Henkel said.

More information about the Marxism mailing list