Due to the continuing concern about an expansion of the Ukraine war and the risk of further conflicts – for example in and around Taiwan – the year 2023 – since April officially year 1 after the pandemic – brings much, but no spirit of optimism. We had wished exactly this for w as soon as the Corona Pandemic would finally be over. But it shows once again that the influences on Germany and all of us as employees are far more diverse than the focus on Corona.
It is part of the truth that the pandemic has given an enormous boost, especially with regard to the organization of work – especially with regard to new, digital working methods. In many areas we have moved away from being present at the workplace for the sake of being present, towards more efficiency and a focus on results. Remote working and the associated new freedom of self-organization of work have brought about an improvement in the so-called «work-life balance». At the same time, however, this development also creates new social problems and casts a different light on the already known negative elements of remote work and home work. A massive problem is the expectation of employees to be available at all times and to be able to get work done at any time.
For us as Christian trade unionists, the focus is on people! Because of our value-based orientation, we place a significant emphasis on the balance between work and private life. Compliance with the daily working hours regulated by the labour/collective bargaining agreement and the regulations of the Working Hours Act must also be guaranteed in the area of remote work/working from home!
Our world of work, our values and our ideas of how our whole life and our society should be shaped in the future have never been shaped by conditions and requirements changing so quickly as in the past three years. The desire for change and progressive development, the step into a new digital age, the effects of which are comparable to the industrial revolution, are breaking up traditional social and labour market structures.
The change is reinforced by the war in Ukraine that has now been going on for more than a year. This makes us aware that the much sought after globalization stands on very thin ice in the event of a conflict. Disrupted supply chains, rising energy prices and the associated inflation that was previously unimaginable on this scale show that we need to focus more on domestic production and domestic solutions again without isolating ourselves. This is a challenge that we as Christian trade unionists must face in particular, as it will transform the labour market.
We are currently experiencing labour disputes in Germany that, due to their vehemence, have almost been forgotten. And as always when it comes to labour disputes, voices from employers are raised shouting out that the apocalypse is imminent. There is talk of French conditions (whatever that may be), which is why the right to strike must be restricted. Certainly not the traffic or services of general interest should be affected. This contrasts with an unprecedented increase in the cost of living, which is being felt by all people – especially those who work in lower-paid jobs. This cut in the standard of living can only be countered with an increase in income. This realization is part of the social responsibility of employers!
In fact, in Germany, less than a third of the French strike days are counted, and there can certainly be no talk of burning barricades in labour disputes. It is in the nature of things that a strike brings inconveniences and also causes economic damage, otherwise this means would be completely meaningless.
Of course, we Christian trade unionists stand by the right to strike and support all colleagues in labour disputes. But we also stand for a sense of proportion. We do not want the baby to be thrown out with the bathwater through excessive measures. In terms of social partnership, a strike must always be the last resort and must not be used in an inflationary manner. We want to apply and incorporate our basic values of Christian social ethics, personal responsibility, solidarity, tolerance, respect in dealing with one another, humanity and strengthening the common good in the context of labour disputes. We want to solve conflicts through talks and negotiations and not resolve conflicts through statements in the media! This is an essential part of the social responsibility for which we stand and work.
This is accompanied by the constantly increasing risk of living in old-age poverty after active gainful employment. The Riester pension system is increasingly proving to be more of a model for the positive earnings situation of insurers than a sensible model for maintaining the standard of living. Other supplementary pension systems have been suffering too from the low interest rates for years, which is pushing the level down. In this respect, the state pension is still the only correct model of old-age provision. We will ensure that the system is not further undermined but strengthened. In an economically strong country like Germany, it must be possible for all social forces to find a way to prevent poverty in old age.
As Christian trade unions, we have always stood for forms of employee participation in company profits in order to be able to better financially secure the standard of living in retirement. Even in times of increasing labour and skilled labour shortages, our demands are highly topical, because the effects of the skilled labour shortage will also affect the financing of pensions. The currently discussed introduction of the four-day work week, incidentally a demand that we had raised a long time ago, may be able to conceal the lack of workers for a while and promote the compatibility of family and work, but the real problem will not be solved by that in the long run.
We Christian trade unionists have been walking this path of social responsibility and social discourse for more than a hundred years. We will continue to follow and shape this path in the future because we are convinced that it is right not only to proclaim social responsibility in Sunday speeches, but to take it on.
Source: https://www.cgb.info/aktuell/stellungnahmen/leser/items/1303.html (original German)