Industrial union: IG Metall plans dual leadership

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Status: 01/26/2023 5:15 p.m

Germany’s largest individual trade union, IG Metall, once again gained new members in the collective bargaining war last year. Now she has to reorganize her leadership.

After the Metall 2022 industrial union negotiated a two-year collective agreement for the metal and electrical industry, this year it will deal intensively with internal issues. This became clear at the annual press conference of the trade union leaders in Frankfurt am Main. Personnel are to be transferred from the Frankfurt trade union headquarters and the seven district managements to regional offices. The full-time board of directors is to be reduced. A dual leadership is planned.

Usually, the second chairman of IG Metall follows the first chairman in office. After eight years, trade union boss Jörg Hofmann is retiring in October. With Christiane Benner, IG Metall currently has a second chairperson for the first time. She leaves no doubt about her desire for leadership.

Hofmann reported on internal discussions in the male-dominated union to elect two equal chairmen. The distinction “First” or “First” and “Second/Second” should fall. One could “delete the tinsel” and in the future come to an “equal cooperation between the chairmen,” said Hofmann. It’s not just about tinsel: “Traditionally, there was definitely a hierarchy of responsibilities,” confirmed Hofmann. In terms of payment, however, he and Benner are already on an equal footing.

Technicians and engineers also enter

Under Corona, IG Metall lost members, but during the collective bargaining war last year it was possible to gain around five percent new members. The union now has almost 2.2 million members again. Due to the home office, work abroad and more and more highly qualified workers, union work is taking place less and less in factory buildings and on the assembly line. For decades, IG Metall tried unsuccessfully to tap into the white-collar layer. It is currently successful.

Benner reported that 32,000 business people, computer specialists, technicians and engineers joined in 2022. The software giant SAP was very successfully advertised, but also in classic metal companies, such as in the district of the coast and at BMW.

“We still have a lot of potential”

“We will not be satisfied with a shrinking IG Metall,” said Chairman Hofmann. “We have a good degree of organization, but we still have a lot of potential”. Basic work “we don’t do in Frankfurt in the management board administration”. “The works councils are the face of IG Metall,” stressed Hofmann. To work more closely with corporate membership, he wants to move staff to the union’s 150 local offices.

The board of directors is to be reduced to five full-time employees. So far, the union has had a seven-strong full-time board of directors, who work in offices that are more imposing than those of the boards of some of the neighboring major banks. The trade union management has for years turned away from old class-struggle slogans and is pursuing a pragmatic policy.

Left wing with a board

At the grassroots level and in the union’s educational system, however, “left” beliefs still play a major role. Twenty years ago, pragmatists and leftists clashed openly in a leadership struggle between Jürgen Peters and Berthold Huber. To this day, the left wing has a representative on the full-time union executive committee, Hans-Jürgen Urban.

“IG Metall has outgrown this level of thinking,” emphasizes Hofmann. A smaller full-time board “also helps to break down one or the other silo mentality”. It helps to promote team thinking. “We cannot make wings the starting point for managerial decisions,” said the union leader. After all, IG Metall is a unified trade union whose membership comes from all democratic parties.

Three smaller tariff rounds

This year there are three smaller wage rounds for IG Metall. Negotiations will begin for the textile industry, for which IG Metall has been responsible since it took over the former Textile and Clothing Union 25 years ago. The car trade and the steel industry follow.

According to the union, it is primarily about more money, even if inflation cannot be completely compensated for by wage increases. Hofmann announced that he would orient himself to the most recent conclusion of the metal and electrical industry. It provides for eight months without an increase, then 5.2 percent and after eleven months a further 3.3 percent wage increase and two tax-free one-off payments of 1,500 euros each.

IG Metall and the discussion about the new management structure

Mischa Ehrhardt, DLF, 26.1.2023 3:57 p.m

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