Union access to teleworkers in Germany

German trade unionists

A landmark agreement between the German union IG-BCE and employers in the rubber industry means that trade unions have a legal right to contact teleworking employees.  

The agreement sets an important precedent, enabling trade unionists to get in touch with teleworkers to recruit or defend members and take collective decisions, while also respecting data protection rules. Channels such as video conferencing systems, digital company notice boards and mailing lists will be used to access the 25,000 workers in Germany’s 100 rubber companies. 

The Corona pandemic is speeding up digitalisation, with a rapid growth in teleworking and the radical transformation of traditional workplaces. The agreement recognises that “social partnership also requires a functioning and up-to-date communication between trade unions and workforces with the means of the ‘digital age’.” 

The partners have also agreed a corona bonus, a permanent annual payment and wage increase, and IG-BCE members will receive an exclusive short-time allowance. Said union negotiator Marc Welters: “We have put together a good overall package that values the work of the employees. That means they have more money in their pockets." The deal runs for 26 months until May 2023. 

At the same time, an agreement between the IG Metall union and Volkswagen, covering the 120,000 employees of the six western German plants, gives workers a single €1,000 lump-sum Covid bonus in June 2021, plus a 2.3% salary increase from January 2022. The services union Ver.di has also secured a €400 bonus and an extra day’s leave for 21,000 employees at the clinic operator Helios, in recognition of work during the pandemic. 

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