Many imagine start-up-companies as laid-back workplaces. The reality often differs from that stereotype: more and more employees in the Berlin start-up and tech-bubble are complaining about increasing workloads and mass layoffs. A lot of questions regarding working conditions and their improvement are directed at the IG Metall, spefically from tech workers. The IG Metall Berlin provides answers.

What is the IG Metall? Isn’t that the trade union exclusively for workers in automotive and steel?

The IG Metall brings together over 2.2 million employees, making it the largest trade union in Germany. While coming from a long tradition of worker representation and organizing in the areas of metals, electricals, iron and steel as well as textiles, clothing, wood and plastics, the IG Metall is well aware of the rapid changes in the German and international economic structures. The organisation has therefore begun to put more effort into the field of union representation for the branches and job types on the rise, which include IT, programming, engineering and design.

The Facts

  • over 2.2 million members
  • present in over 14 000 companies in 30 sectors
  • runs over 155 local offices in 7 regions of germany
  • has 52 000 IG Metall works councils

I want to establish a works council at my workplace. How does that work? Can the IG Metall help me with that?

Sure, you can! Given that there are five permanent employees in your workplace, a works council can be elected. The election process and co-determination-rights the works council has are ensured by the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz, an English version can be found here.

The job of the works council includes:

  • ensuring that everyone is treated fairly in the company
  • making sure that the collective agreements are adhered in the business
  • examining the company’s balance sheet and securing jobs
  • managing employee data protection
  • participating in decisions on workplace design and work progresses
  • promoting compatibility of family and employment
  • negotiating work agreements

The IG Metall can help you with establishing a works council since the procedure can become quite complicated. We also train elected works councils in legal, social and economic matters and support them in their daily tasks.

But my co-workers and me would like to improve our income. Can a works council also negotiate for higher salaries?

No, it cannot. For most workplace matters exceeding the legal frame of the Works Constitution Act you will need a trade union. In Germany, bargaining for collective agreements (which include salary, holidays and daily working hours for example) can exclusively be done by trade unions and their members. If you want more than just a works council, we can help you to kick-start the union at your workplace, organize the rank-and-file of your company and negotiate for better working conditions.

I’m still unsure if the IG Metall is the right trade union for me. How do I know if you are responsible for my branch or company?

If your company produces any kind of hardware: You are definitely right with us! Otherwise, ask yourself what kind of collective agreement would apply to your company. Is it maybe even a subsidiary of a company that already has an existing collective agreement with the IG Metall? If you are still unsure, feel free to get in contact with us.

What else besides collective agreements and help for works councils do I get from joining the union? Do you have a membership fee?

There are many good reasons to join up with the IG Metall. First and foremost: every member enlarges our bargaining power, giving the IG Metall a pioneer role in improving and conserving working conditions for everyone. We also offer services to our members including legal help in the field of labour and social law. The membership for the IG Metall amounts to 1% of the average monthly income. The IG Metall finances itself solely through these membership fees and will reject any monetary means either by the state or any employer to fight exlusively for the interests of its members.

You want to support fair income, good working conditions and more equality? Join the Union 👉www.igmetall.de/beitreten

For any further questions about membership in the IG Metall, establishing a works council or other topics on secure and good work in the IT and startup sector, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our union organizers: Thomas Weber, thomas.weber@igmetall.de / 030-25387-114 or Sören Lieske, soeren.lieske@igmetall.de / 030-25387-106.

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