20 February 2004
BERLIN – The number of Germans belonging to trade unions last year continued steep declines of more than a decade, the chief of the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB), Michael Sommer has confirmed.
Sommer said his organization – an umbrella group for the nation’s eight major unions – lost 300,000 members last year, leaving a total of 7.4 million Germans in labour unions.
In 1993, some 10.3 million people belonged to the DGB and in 1998 the number was 8.3 million.
The losses have been fuelled by older workers retiring and younger workers showing less interest in the union movement. Sommer also said many of Germany’s more than four million unemployed had also turned their backs on unions.
Declining membership rolls highlight the decreasing clout of unions that had been traditionally powerful in post-war Germany.
Sommer admitted that unions had made errors in the past, including the failed bid last year to push through a 35-hour work week in eastern Germany.
Subject: German news