The reconstruction of labour representation in former East Germany 1989-1992 : a comparative study of two German trade unions
This thesis examines the strategies applied by two German trade unions after the collapse of the GDR. It looks at the causes of stability and instability of corporatist systems and their institutions and how these maintain membership and organizational coherence. The study explores the reconstruction strategies of two contrasted West German trade unions seeking to maintain their organizational position and to protect the neo-corporatist industrial relations system that secures their survival. Their strategies for the organizational survival of the unions are determined partly by the neo-corporatist industrial relations structure and partly by their different organizational constraints. The first section looks at explanations of how encompassing trade unions in a neo-corporatist system maintain their membership and their organizational coherence. After delineating the various incentives which encompassing trade unions provide to their membership, the study examines the threats posed by the disintegration of the GDR to the provision of union services and thus to their ability to attract members. The effects of the collapse of the GDR could reduce their membership's willingness to define interests in collective terms (i.e. a favourable trade-off between inflation and unemployment). The study then examines the objectives for an intervention by the West German trade unions in the GDR in order to secure neo-corporatism by incorporation of the East German membership within the encompassing body of the West German unions. The second section looks at the main determinants of the reconstruction process which have been the legacy of low trust in former East German industrial relations as well as the FDGB's inadequate efforts which facilitated the intervention by the West German trade unions in the form of incorporation. The third section assesses the motives of two West German trade unions related to the reconstruction strategies of free labour representation in the GDR. Both trade unions followed the strategy of incorporating the East German workforce by narrowing the existing East-West wage gap (contractual exchange) as well as offering solidarity (diffuse exchange). In particular the motive of contractual exchange reveals the unions' desire to maintain stability within the neo-corporatist environment. As the research on corporatism rarely examines the causes of stability of corporatist systems and institutions, this thesis makes a contribution to our understanding of the strategies to maintain corporatist structures. The sudden collapse of the GDR, with its repercussions for the FRG, provides a special opportunity to analyse the strategy of corporatist institutions seeking to maintain stability.