A Difficult Labor

SVEN KAESTNER/AP

FLAGGING: Zwickel blames Peters for IG Metall's failed strike

Ever since the wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s, labor unions have played a crucial role in Germany. By law, union members sat on company boards, contracts were negotiated with a "consensus" approach that avoided the kind of labor unrest that afflicts France and Italy, and unions exerted considerable political influence. But German union power is now showing real signs of fading. More than 30% of Germany's union members have stopped paying dues in the last decade because of unemployment and disenchantment with unions; even the labor-friendly government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder often ignores their political suggestions; and last week, after the powerful...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!