Codetermination in Germany - Historical Development

Historical Development

  • 1848: The Frankfurt Parliament processed a minority proposal for industry organisation that included boundaries for corporate power by setting up Labour councils.
  • 1850: In four printing houses in Saxony's Eilenburg the first worker committees were established.
  • 1891: after repeal of the Sozialistengesetz, worker committees could be founded freely. However, this only happened where there were active unions.
  • 1905: In reaction to the strike in the Ruhr coal mines, the Prussian Berggesetz introduced worker committees in mining companies with over 100 workers.
  • 1916: The Law of Fatherland Disaster Relief Team (Gesetz des Vaterländischen Hilfsdiensts) created worker committees for all companies producing for the war effort with over 50 workers. These committees had hearing rights in social affairs.
  • 1920: The Betriebsrätegesetz (Works Council Act) was passed, mandating consultative bodies for workers in businesses with over 20 employees. Social and economic interests of workers were to be represented and considered to the management.
  • 1933: After the Nazis seized power, works councils were abolished and unions were broken up.
  • 1946/47: The Allied Control Council, through the Kontrollratsgesetz No. 22 allowed works councils as in the Weimar Republic.
  • 1951: The Montan-Mitbestimmungsgesetz (Coal, steel and mining codetermination law) was passed for codetermination in businesses with over 1000 employees.
  • 1952: The Betriebsverfassungsgesetz was passed for participation of workers at shop floor level.
  • 1955: The Bundespersonalvertretungsgesetz was passed on 5 August 1955, allowing codetermination among members of the civil service.
  • 1968: The 1968 student uprisings led to demands for democratisation of companies, universities and public institutions.
  • 1972: The Betriebsverfassungsgesetz was updated and reissued.
  • 1976: The Mitbestimmungsgesetz required codetermination for all companies with over 2000 employees.

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