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My word, gosh, this is a surprise

In over 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, eastern Germans have been told several reasons why they lag behind the west: an uncompetitive industry, a lack of jobs, a shortage of young workers.

But Germany’s new government believes the formerly socialist “workers’ and peasants’ state” is missing something else: trade unions.

“We have too few collective bargaining agreements in the east, too little democracy in businesses,” Carsten Schneider, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s appointee as federal commissioner for the east, told the Guardian in an interview. “For decades, workers in the east have been told to start queueing at the back, and it drives me crazy when I see how some of them have internalised that.”

In the old German Democratic Republic, the dominant trade union was controlled by the ruling party and industrial action was effectively banned. Nowadays, only about 40% of its workforce is paid according to collective bargaining agreements, compared with 50% in the more prosperous west. Schneider, a Social Democrat from Erfurt in the south-eastern state of Thuringia, says it is his aim to close the gap.

Lefty, pro-trade unionist, politician thinks more unions is a good idea. How did that ever come about?

7 thoughts on “My word, gosh, this is a surprise”

  1. Socialism, the system that made even Germans poor. And now some Germans want more of it! I wonder who is paying him, now the USSR has gone?

  2. If his ‘logic’ holds, why don’t we just make it so 100% of the workforce is paid under collective bargaining agreements. That’ll push prosperity sky-high

  3. I got a forty quid a day pay cut when we got unionised.
    Forty years later I still fucking hate trade unions.

  4. And 40 years ago £40 a day would buy the entire motorway that people lived on under sweet papers.

  5. I keep thinking “40 years ago” has to be the 1970s, but yeah gods no! it’s when I was at school in the ’80s! How did that happen?

  6. What kind of person looks at any unionized industry and thinks, “I want that in more places”? I think it’s a subconscious need to bond posthumously with their dead father who worked in a union…not by being a union worker themselves, but by making six figures in an administrative position.

  7. Here in the US, most unionzed workers are in the public sector, which leads to some interesting things for the left.

    The first is that unions are supposed to be the response to evil employers oppressing the workers. In this case any suggestions that we should have less of this evil is met with horror. So now we know they are troughing. Which leads to the second issue.

    In the public sector, the union and management are on the same side. The union demands more money and funds politicians. The politicians send the bill to the taxpayer, who is not represented in the proceedings. This is a positive feedback loop where unions pay to elect politicians who expand government, which then increases the size of the union. The loop is only broken when the taxpayers go non-linear.

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