I wish I had more color commentary on this issue, which has been brewing for a while in our German headquarters, but it's largely a mystery to me how these union issues work.
I know there are some pretty intense emotions on the anti-union side, which is interesting and hopefully reflects a generational shift in attitudes toward markets and labor in Germany. However, having read what I just wrote I probably wouldn't agree with it either for the simple reason that college graduates per capita is still lower than the U.S., and unemployment for youths is still high compared to other economies, such as the UK. Lastly, there is a lot of anxiety about jobs moving offshore to India and nearshore to Eastern Europe, and this largely plays into the hands of the old-time union folk.
SAP moves to create non-union workers' council | InfoWorld | News | 2006-03-15 | By John Blau, IDG News Service SAP has taken steps to form a workers' council comprised of non-union employees in an effort to fend off what the German software vendor views as the harmful influence of unions on its "startup" company culture.
UPDATE: It was pointed out in the comments that I was confusing the issue of works councils and unions, and that it is correct. In an effort to clarify what a "works council" is, here are some of the rights that they enjoy. The last point is the most important one because I don't think that the current effort to establish a works council is motivated by benefits, I think it is driven by the fact that SAP has been building substantial software development capability in India, the U.S., and Eastern Europe.
More influence for employees. Works council has to be consulted by the Board if company plans to:
- lay off or hire people
- introduce technical means to control peoples work habits or behaviour
- introduce new remuneration models or change existing ones
- build new technical facilities (but this applies more to the industrial sector)
- change work processes
Work council can furthermore influence:
- protection of work safety and health conditions (pregnacy, ergonomics etc.)
More information for employees. Board has to notifiy works council if the plan to:
- lay off or regroup people
- relocate workers to other workplaces
Important: Works council has legal means to oppose. If Board and council cannot agree, they will have to go to court over this