German metall union leader resigns

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Tue Jul 22 04:57:22 MDT 2003

Though you have to take the labels 'traditionalist' and 'refomist' with a
grain of salt, this is an import defeat for the 'New Labour'-types inside
the German unions:

>From the Finacial Times website:

Zwickel resignation puts rival at helm of IG Metall
By Hugh Williamson in Berlin
Published: July 22 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: July 22 2003 5:00

A hardline traditionalist is set to assume the leadership next month of the
IG Metall engineering union, Germany's most influential labour organisation,
following the dramatic resignation yesterday of Klaus Zwickel, the union's
The resignation of Mr Zwickel - who was due to retire in October - leaves
the way clear for his deputy, and arch rival, Jürgen Peters, to be elected
chairman at a special delegates' conference in late August. Mr Peters is
acting chairman until the conference.
Mr Peters, known as a traditionalist who earlier this year strongly opposed
the government's economic reform proposals, yesterday said he had reached a
deal with Berthold Huber, the leader of the union's reformist wing.


>From the New York Times:

Union Leader Retires Early in Feud Fallout
RANKFURT, July 21 - The battle to control Germany's most powerful union, IG
Metall, appeared to come to an abrupt end today, as the union's longtime
chairman, Klaus Zwickel, announced that he would step down early rather than
accept his deputy as successor.
The feud between IG Metall's leaders has been closely watched because it is
seen as part of a broader struggle over the future of organized labor in
Europe. The union was forced to drop its campaign for a shorter workweek in
the factories of eastern Germany after its hard-nosed negotiating tactics
were repudiated by Germans across the political spectrum.
"This isn't just about two union leaders fighting each other," said Michael
Bolle, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin. "IG Metall is
undergoing dramatic changes. With the adoption of the euro, its whole
bargaining situation changed. It has to think of new strategies."
Mr. Bolle said Mr. Peters might surprise people. He noted that Mr. Peters is
less closely aligned to the Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Gerhard
Schröder than Mr. Zwickel. That could be healthy for an organization seeking
new ways of doing things.
"I'm personally convinced that he is a pragmatist," Mr. Bolle said. "Under
Peters, the union could change its ways."


Reuters ( via CNN )


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