- Germany: Union Tariff Uniformity Law
- September 10, 2015
- Law Firm: DLA Piper (Canada) LLP - Vancouver Office
- German President Joachim Gauck has signed the law on tariff uniformity. This was announced by a spokeswoman for the presidential office on 6 July 2015. With the execution by the President and the announcement in the Federal Gazette, the law will come into force.
Smaller unions have become more and more influential ever since the German Federal Labor Court abolished the principle of tariff uniformity in 2010. Under this rule established by case law, only one collective bargaining agreement could apply to the same kind of employment relationships in an operation. This meant that, for example, if two unions represent the same categories of workers in an operation, only the agreement concluded by the union with the highest number of members in the operation was effective. Following a recent series of strikes organized and led by competing unions of train conductors and pilots, there were calls for legislative action in order to limit the power of a few to shut down services important to the public. The new law restores the principle of tariff uniformity. Minority union rights are ensured by certain procedures which include the option to co-sign the collective bargaining agreement concluded by the majority union.
Smaller unions criticize the law for undermining their constitutional right of forming and working in a coalition. Accordingly, several unions have already announced that they will challenge the law at the Federal Constitutional Court. We will keep you updated on whether the law is held to be constitutional and on any new developments.