Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

Unit 6, Lecture 5 - Bridging the Gap – International Solidarity


Co-determination is a set of rights that allows workers and their representatives to influence management decisions at the company level.

In Germany 2 levels of co-determination:
- establishment level: works councils have the right to information and consultation and can negotiate works agreements (working hours, health and safety)
- supervisory board: worker’s representatives are involved in business policies of the company

Co-determination at the workplace is legally limited to the business operations of multinational companies in Germany. Because of Germany companies’ strong legal positions and the institutional presence at the supervisory board trade unions have some informal leverage to influence the behavior of the companies also in other countries.

A strengthened labor movement worldwide allows workers everywhere to have protection from unregulated global competition (i.e. race to the bottom).

Overview of Co-Determination:
- Employee Involvement: takes place on 2 levels (establishment follow objectives based on techniques of working and the company as a legally responsible organized unit)
- Employee Representation through the Works Council
- Economic Planning

Objectives of Co-Determination
- Equality of Capital and Work: requires companies to consider the interests of shareholders and employees
- Democracy in the Economy: resolving conflicts not by force but through dialogue and co-decision
- Social Development: co-determination contributes to the improvement of working people’s living and working conditions
- Control of Economic Power: employees and employer need to look out for the long-term development of the company i.e. co-determination is an important factor in the stabilization of our economic and social order

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