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Transformations of the Unions and movements of the strike in Germany

We publish an interview concerning the right to strike in Germany. We talked with Heiner Können, member of TIE, a global network made of workers, trade-unionists and activists who since decades produce initiatives and organization across the borders. The so-called Tarifeinheitsgesetz law was approved last May by the German Parliament; it imposes that only the most representative trade union is able to take part to the bargaining related the labour contract (i.e. the dream of our Renzi comes true) and, thus, to strike, since the strike can be legally declared only in conjunction with the renewal of the contract. The law enjoys the support of an entire social block that, beyond the Große Koalition, includes DGB, the trade unions confederation, as well as Arbeitsgeberverband, the association of the entrepreneurs. This is a front which coalesced without too much difficulty against the wave of strikes, mostly organized by minor trade unions, that run over the «German locomotive» in the last months.  The message is clear: the strike must be a poorly sharpened weapon and it is necessary to impede that workers and small trade unions get the chance to «held the society hostage», no matter why. As Heiner maintains, this law is telling about the will to solve in a legal way the political insufficiency of the big trade unions in front of today’s transformations of production, from the point of view of both the precarization of labour relationships, and of the transnational dimension of production. The motto «one company, one collective agreement», which is used to back the law, recalls an old slogan against trade union fragmentation, a slogan that, when proclaimed today, reveals nothing but a guilty anachronism. There is no more company unity to refer to. Company unity is therefore a fantasy that overshadows the real factory organization and the diffused precarity which fragmented that unity. In order not to contribute to this removal and to imagine the strike neither as an empty threat nor as an instrument of technical management of the disputes, it is necessary to start a discussion which is able to face the transformations of production and the problems that it poses on the side of organization. It is necessary to take into account some questions like: what does it mean today to be an industry worker? Why are male and female workers less and less organizing themselves inside the trade unions? How to accumulate the power that is necessary not to be «held hostage» by a society which demands more and more and gives less and less? These questions crossed the experiment of social strike in Italy on the 14th of November, and cross the attempts to involve, through the strikes, that society which purports to be untouched by the needs of the workers. These questions have been made clear during the strikes in the kindergartens in Frankfurt and dwell in the transnational communication between the German Amazon warehouses on strike and the new  warehouses in Poland which have been recently built in order to soften the consequences of the blockades of the distribution. These questions will be central in the meeting towards a transnational social strike, which will take place in Poznan from the 2nd to the 4th of October 2015.

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Quelle: Precarious di∫connections, Transformations of the Unions and movements of the strike in Germany

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