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Trade Unions (Germany)


Last modified: 2006-09-23 by jarig bakker
Keywords: trade union | gewerkschaften |
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Trade Unions:
  • IG Metall (Metal Industrial Union / Industriegewerkschaft Metall)
  • IG BCE (Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie)
  • IG CPK -former trade union- (Industriegewerkschaft Chemie, Papier, Keramik; Industrial Union Chemistry, Paper, Ceramics)
  • ver.di (United Services Union / Vereinigte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft)
  • HBV (Trade, Banks and Insurances Union / Gewerkschaft Handel, Banken und Versicherungen)
  • IG Medien (Media Industrial Union / Industriegewerkschaft Medien)
  • ÖTV (Public Services, Transport and Traffic Union / Gewerkschaft Öffentliche Dienste, Transport und Verkehr)
  • Free Workers' Union (Freie ArbeiterInnen Union / FAU)
See also:


All of the flags used by German trade unions have logos. Probably most or all the flags simply contain the logo (perhaps with the name of the union) on a bedsheet. Some of them are seen more frequently during demonstrations or strikes, others are rarely seen. Unfortunately I have no information when were these flags adopted or started to be used. I just have some photos and I drew the GIFs after them.
Marcus Schmöger, 31 March 2001

Some comments on the system of trade unions in Germany:
The most important trade unions are associated in the DGB (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund = German Federation of Trade Unions), which has currently about 7,7 Million members. The DGB is a mainly left-wing association, although membership as well as leadership contains many people of different political affiliation (for instance also from the "left wings" of the CDU and CSU parties; prominent example is the former CDU Minister for Labour, Norbert Blüm).
Currently the following single trade unions belong to the DGB (membership in brackets):
- ver.di (Vereinigte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft = United Services Union) (2,74 Million);
- IG Metall (Industriegewerkschaft Metall = Industrial Union Metal) (2,644 Million);
- IG BCE (Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie = Industrial Union Mining, Chemistry, Energy) (834000);
- IG BAU (Industriegewerkschaft Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt = Industrial Union Building-Agriculture-Environment) (490000);
- TRANSNET GdED (TRANSNET Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands = Union of the German Railway Workers) (297000);
- GEW (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft = Union Education and Science) (265000);
- Gewerkschaft NGG (Gewerkschaft Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten = Union Food-Consumption-Restaurants) (245000);
- GdP (Gewerkschaft der Polizei = Union of the Police) (185000).

In recent years there have been several mergers of trade unions in the DGB, the last and most important (in 2001) being the merger of five unions (including the DAG = Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft = German Employees' Union, formerly not DGB member) into ver.di.
Outside the DGB there are also several trade unions of minor size and (mostly) minor importance:
Several Christian unions are associated in the CGB (Christlicher Gewerkschaftsbund = Christian Federation of Trade Unions).
The civil servants (Beamte) are organised in the Beamtenbund (Civil Servants' Association), that also includes the DPolG (Deutsche Polizeigewerkschaft = German Police Union), a competitor of the GdP mentioned above, and several affiliated organisations.
Finally there are many smaller unions; however, I do not have a whole picture of all these unions. I want to mention only two: the GDL (Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer = Union of German Engine-Drivers), which is very active right now; and the FAU (Freie ArbeiterInnen Union = Free Workers' Union), an anarcho-syndicalist trade union (flag reported by me 11 May 2002).

At least all the DGB trade unions have their own flags, mainly logo-on-bedsheet with inscriptions, though. Furthermore there are probably a lot of older banners, heavily embroidered; several of them can be seen during the 1 May demonstrations. I have already reported on the flags of the IG Metall (I will give some additional info, though); ver.di (I will give some additional info); three of the former unions merged into ver.di (ÖTV, HBV, IG Medien); FAU.
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 4 May 2003