Employee Representation in the German Craft Sector – a Neglected Form of Industrial Democracy

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:05 AM
Room: Booth 65
Oral Presentation
Stefan LÜCKING , Hans Böckler Foundation, Düsseldorf, Germany
The German Crafts and Trade Code (“Handwerksordnung”, HWO) with its strict rules for market access is often regarded as a pure anachronism ant it is regularly put into question by the European Commission who sees it as a barrier to the freedom of trade. However, the German regulation of craft is also an example of industrial democracy as since the enactment of the Crafts and Trade Code in 1953 employee representatives are part of the regulatory bodies, the chambers of craft and in particular the vocational training committees. Since this time employee participation has been further developed and democratized.

The paper will analyse the historical background of these developments and carve out the strengths and shortcomings of employee participation in the autonomous regulation of German craft sectors. It will discuss the impact of employee representation on setting standards for the sector in general and vocational training in particular. On the basis of this analyses the paper will draw conclusions regarding the viability of this form of participation in a context that is increasingly shaped by rules of a liberal market economy. Finally, it will ask if employee representation in the German craft sector can be a model for other sectors and countries.