Shortly after his re-election in October, the head of the IG Metall union made a demand that must not remain uncommented. “If one wants to create a balance between work and capital, co-determination must be strengthened,” said Jörg Hofmann in the Handelsblatt interview. However, the double voting right of the chairman of the supervisory board has so far prevented “real participation”. So should we put labour and capital on an equal footing? We think Whoever bears the entrepreneurial risk should have the last word in case of doubt – especially since companies cannot afford delays due to blockades in the supervisory board, especially in view of the rapid technological change.
Why employee shareholdings are the silver bullet
In addition, while on the capital side there are more and more independent supervisory board members who are committed to the company’s well-being and thus to all stakeholders, employee representatives naturally also pursue their own interests. We therefore have another proposal to enhance the labour factor and create a better “balance”: Employee shareholdings. This is because if employees have a stake in the company, they can have a say in the decisions of the owner representatives on the Supervisory Board. In this way, their disadvantage (often felt rather than de facto) could be compensated by the double voting right without creating blockade possibilities. In addition, there would be additional incentives for shareholders to nominate independent candidates who do not represent the interests of investors alone.
Loss of meaning? Why trade unions hesitate
The problem: Employee share ownership does not fit into the stuff of many trade unionists. They fear a loss of importance of collective bargaining policy when employees collect dividends and think more entrepreneurially. This would be the most obvious way to dissolve the contrast between labour and capital. Jörg Hofmann should therefore better propagate employee participation and lead his trade union functionaries out of their ideological trenches. Especially since this does not necessarily mean a loss of significance: Trade unions could take on an additional role – as guarantors of fair employee participation schemes.