German Trade Union Confederation

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German Trade Union Confederation
founding October 13, 1949
Seat Berlin
purpose Trade union confederation
Chair Reiner Hoffmann
Members 5,934,971 (2019)
in 8 unions

The German Trade Union Federation ( DGB ) is the largest umbrella organization of individual trade unions in Germany. It has eight member unions with around six million trade unionists in the Federal Republic of Germany . These cover all industries and economic sectors. However, there are also trade unions that do not belong to the DGB (see list of trade unions in Germany ) . The board of directors of the DGB has its seat in Berlin .

The union is from the beginning to the principle of single union committed.

The DGB works at the international level in the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (IGB) and represents the German trade union movement at international institutions such as the EU and the UN .


Memorial plaque for the founding of the German Trade Union Federation in the Deutsches Museum

The first steps towards founding a unified trade union took place before the end of World War II . On March 18, 1945, trade unionists met in Aachen , which had already been liberated by US troops , to hold a founding congress. The DGB itself was founded on October 12, 1949 in Munich . At that time, the federal congress of the trade unions passed the "Statutes of the DGB", which have since been amended or revised several times. According to this, the DGB is an "association of trade unions" based in Berlin.

The forerunner of the DGB was the General German Trade Union Federation (ADGB). In the GDR there was the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB), which, however, cannot be compared with the DGB. From 1919 to 1933 the umbrella organization of the Christian trade unions (and initially also the liberal) was called the DGB (now the CGB ).

Federal congresses, policy and action programs

  • 12-14 October 1949: The founding congress of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) for the Federal Republic of Germany in Munich elects Hans Böckler as its first chairman. The ideological split in directional unions will be overcome by the unified union. The “Parliament of Labor”, as the name and self-image of this and the later DGB congresses are, adopts economic and socio-political principles with the demands for the socialization of key industries, economic planning and co-determination
  • February 16, 1951: Hans Böckler dies. After his death, Christian Fette was elected DGB chairman by the extraordinary DGB congress in Essen in June.
  • 13-17 October 1952: The 2nd Ordinary DGB Federal Congress elects Walter Freitag , previously chairman of IG Metall, as DGB chairman.
  • May 1, 1955: The DGB's action program calls for a forty-hour five-day week with full wages. A popular campaign with the motto “Saturdays is my father's” emphasized the cause from 1956.
  • 1-6 October 1956: The 4th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB elects Willi Richter as chairman.
  • 22-27 October 1962: The 6th Ordinary DGB Federal Congress in Hanover elects Ludwig Rosenberg as DGB Chairman. In terms of content, the DGB rejected the emergency laws and decided in favor of self-determination and reunification and against the violation of human rights by the GDR. In addition, equal wages were required for women's work. In the second civil service policy program, the DGB called for the civil service legislation to be adapted to modern circumstances.
  • 21-22 November 1963: At its extraordinary congress in Düsseldorf, the DGB decides on a new basic program that weakens the socialization demands of the Munich program of 1949, but does not give up.
  • March 23, 1965: The DGB's action program calls for shorter working hours, a 13th month salary and a minimum of four weeks' leave.
  • May 21, 1969: The 8th DGB Congress in Munich elects Heinz Oskar Vetter as the new DGB Chairman.
  • 25.-30. June 1972: The 9th Congress in Berlin approves an action program. “Demand No. 1” is participation.
  • June 1979: In an action program, the DGB demands the safeguarding and creation of jobs.
  • 12-14 March 1981: The extraordinary federal congress of the DGB in Düsseldorf adopts a new basic program that supplements the demands of the program of 1963, especially in peace and environmental policy.
  • October 1988: The DGB adopts an action program for employment policy and full employment.
  • 20.-26. May 1990: The 14th Ordinary DGB Federal Congress in Hamburg elects Heinz-Werner Meyer , the chairman of IG Bergbau und Energie, to succeed Ernst Breit (since May 21, 1982) in the office of DGB federal chairman.
  • 13-17 June 1994: The 15th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB elects Dieter Schulte as chairman after Heinz-Werner Meyer's death.
  • July 12, 1995: DGB program to promote vocational training. All young people should be given the opportunity to receive vocational training.
  • 13-16 November 1996: At its extraordinary federal congress in Dresden, the DGB decides on a new basic program which declares the socially regulated market economy to be the goal (see below).
  • March 5, 1997: The DGB resolves the action program “For work and social justice” (see below).
  • 27.-31. May 2002: The 17th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB elects Michael Sommer to succeed Dieter Schulte.
  • 22-26 May 2006: 18th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB, Berlin - "Human dignity is our benchmark" (see below)
  • 16. – 20. May 2010: 19th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB in Berlin - “Work. Justice. Solidarity."
  • 11-16 May 2014: 20th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB in Berlin - “Work. Justice. Solidarity. ” Reiner Hoffmann is elected to succeed Michael Sommer.
  • 13-17 May 2018: 21st Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB in Berlin - "SOLIDARITY_DIVERSITY_JUSTICE"

On May 14th and 15th, 2009, the DGB organized a “Capitalism Congress” in which it dealt with the current global economic crisis.

Affiliate Union Mergers

When the DGB was founded in 1949, it had a total of 16 member unions. In 1972 the DGB had 6.98 million members.

In 1978 the Police Union (GdP) became the 17th union to join the DGB. In 1989 the art union merged with the IG Druck und Papier , so that the number of members was reduced to 16 again. In 1996 the IG Bau-Steine-Erden and the horticulture, agriculture and forestry union merged to form the IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt (BAU), so that there were 15 members. In 1997 the IG Bergbau und Energie (IG BE), IG Chemie, Papier, Keramik (IG Chemie) and the leather union merged to become IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE), with 13 members. In 1998 and 2000, respectively, the wood and plastic union and the textile and clothing union were incorporated into IG Metall . Thus there were still eleven members, and in 2001 four member unions merged ( Deutsche Postgewerkschaft (DPG) , Public Services, Transport and Traffic (ÖTV) , Commerce, Banks and Insurance (HBV) and IG Medien - Printing and Paper, Journalism and Art (IG media) ) of the DGB including the German employees' union (DAG), which was not a member of the DGB, the new union ver.di . So since March 2001 there are only eight member unions in the DGB. On November 30, 2010, Transnet and the GDBA (which was not a member of the DGB) merged to form the Railway and Transport Union (EVG). The number of member unions thus remained constant.

Membership numbers

After the membership numbers of the trade unions represented in the DGB jumped from almost 7.94 million to over 11.8 million after reunification in 1990, a continuous downward trend has been observed since 1991. At the end of 2018, the DGB had fewer than 6 million members (as of December 31, 2018). This is the lowest level since 1951. The DGB only had a membership of 6 million members or less in its initial phase, the early phase of the German " economic miracle " from 1950 to 1955. At that time, the number of members rose slowly from 5 after it was founded in 1949 .4 to 6.1 million.

The 1996 policy

The basic program adopted at the 5th Extraordinary Federal Congress from November 13 to 16, 1996 in Dresden is entitled "Shaping the Future" and is divided into the following chapters and sections:

  • Our future - call for cooperation
  • I. Future of work
1. Create work and share work
2. Change of work
3. We want to shape the work of the future
4. Design through legal protection and a collective agreement
5. Expand participation and codetermination
  • II. Shaping the economy
1. Realize full employment
2. Growing and changing direction ecologically
3. Realize more social justice
4. Create equal living conditions in the regions
5. Market and state, co-determination and shaping
6. For a just world economic order
  • III. Secure the welfare state through reforms
1. Public services and quality of life belong together
2. Consolidate and renew the social security system through reforms
  • IV. Demands on our democratic society
1. Expand political freedom
2. Human rights, peace and disarmament
3. Promote cultural diversity and democratic media
4. Education is the key to the future
  • V. The future of the trade unions
1. Realize diversity in unity
2. Develop competence and participation
3. Renew organizational culture
4. The future of union advocacy in Europe

The 1997 action program

The action program adopted on March 5, 1997 is entitled "For Work and Social Justice" and is divided into the following chapters and sections:

  • I. Create work - share work
1. Implement social and ecological reforms
2. Shorten working hours and create more time sovereignty
3. Secure and modernize training and further education
4. Publicly funded employment through active
  • II. Establish social justice
5. Stabilize social security systems - reduce statutory non-wage costs
6. Reform old-age insurance
7. Realize a socially just tax reform
  • III. Defend collective bargaining autonomy - strengthen workers' rights
8. Preserve and reform collective agreements
9. Secure and strengthen workers' rights
  • IV. Shaping European unity socially
  • V. Our way

18th Ordinary Federal Congress 22. – 26. May 2006

The 18th Ordinary Federal Congress of the DGB took place from May 22nd to 26th, 2006 in Berlin. He chose

  • as chairman Michael Sommer (with 298 of 380 votes cast)
  • As Deputy Chairwoman Ingrid Sehrbrock (with 212 of 373 votes)
  • as further members of the Federal Executive Board:
- Annelie Buntenbach (309 votes, cast: 384)
- Dietmar Hexel (273 votes, cast: 384)
- Claus Matecki (second ballot: 218 votes, cast: 348)

The congress passed 137 motions on the DGB statutes as well as on social and trade union issues, including the “leading motion 1” of the federal executive committee, “Human dignity is our benchmark”. It says u. a .:

“Human dignity is inextricably linked with the individual's ability to participate in social and economic life as an independent individual. Without social justice, however, there is neither freedom nor dignity. However, dignity and freedom are no longer a matter of course in our society. They are threatened by increasing economic deregulation and flexibility.
The openness of the markets and the speed of transaction processes allow international corporations and financial institutions to make decisions that have serious consequences for national economies, individual companies and employees, free of democratic control. This global unleashing of the markets exerts enormous competitive pressure on the welfare states and thus on their social standards.
Social justice as a prerequisite for a life in dignity and as the guiding principle of a democracy based on the welfare state therefore means, now and in the future,
  • the recognition of the right of employees to participate fairly in the development and distribution of prosperity as well as their expectations of self-determination and co-determination in the world of work and society;
  • social protection in old age, against illness and against unemployment, so that people continue to be integrated into social life despite these existential risks and do not slip into social marginalization;
  • To enable all people regardless of their parents' status, education and income to have access to education and training and to promote lifelong learning. In this way, societal and social design opportunities can be used regardless of the status, education and income of the parents;
  • to enable the individual through a good education to help shape the change in the labor market, economy and society;
  • To give people the opportunity to integrate into society and to protect them from social exclusion, regardless of age, gender, social origin or cultural background;
  • to ensure social peace by maintaining internal security.
The German trade unions advocate this comprehensive idea of ​​justice. "

Chair of the DGB

Headquarters of the DGB in Berlin
Reiner Hoffmann (2018)

All chairmen were or are members of the SPD .


Members of the DGB trade unions in 2017
labor union Women Men All in all
IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt IG BAU 67,069 26.35% 187.456 73.65% 254,525 4.25%
IG mining, chemistry, energy IG BCE 137.012 21.49% 500,611 78.51% 637.623 10.64%
Education and Science Union GEW 199,529 71.71% 78.714 28.29% 278.243 4.64%
IG Metall IGM 406,893 17.98% 1,855,768 82.02% 2,262,661 37.74%
Union of Food-Enjoyment-Restaurants NGG 83,741 41.89% 116.180 58.11% 199.921 3.33%
Police Union GdP 46.032 24.86% 139.121 75.14% 185.153 3.09%
Railway and Transport Union EVG 41.204 21.69% 148,771 78.31% 189,975 3.17%
United Services Union ver.di 1,038,221 52.24% 949.115 47.76% 1,987,336 33.15%
DGB total DGB 2,019,701 33.69% 3,975,736 66.31% 5,995,437 100.00%
DGB membership structure 2017

Member unions of the DGB with their seats

Organs of the DGB

The organs of the DGB are:

  • Federal Congress
  • Federal Committee
  • Federal Executive
  • Revision Commission

The highest organ is the Federal Congress, which meets every four years. The federal committee performs the tasks between the federal congresses.

The highest representative of the DGB is the chairman as the head of a multi-person "board of directors". The federal executive board consists of Reiner Hoffmann (chairman), Elke Hannack (deputy chairwoman), Annelie Buntenbach and Stefan Körzell . The revision commission consists of three members. She monitors u. a. the cash management and the annual accounts of the federal government and reports on this to the federal congress or federal committee.

Districts and regions

Districts of the DGB

The DGB is divided into nine districts and 59 regions.

The districts and regions are:

  • Baden-Württemberg
    regions: North Baden, North Württemberg, South Baden, South Württemberg
  • Bavaria
    regions: Middle Franconia, Munich, Lower Bavaria, Upper Bavaria, Upper Franconia, Upper Palatinate, Swabia, Lower Franconia
  • Berlin - Brandenburg
    regions: Berlin, East Brandenburg, West Brandenburg, South Brandenburg / Lausitz
  • Hessen - Thuringia
    Regions: Frankfurt-Rhein-Main, Southeast Hesse, Central Hesse, Thuringia, North Hesse, South Hesse
  • Lower Saxony - Bremen - Saxony-Anhalt
    regions: Bremen-Elbe-Weser, Halle-Dessau, Altmark-Börde-Harz, Lower Saxony-Mitte, North-East Lower Saxony, Oldenburg-East Frisia, Osnabrück-Emsland, South-East Lower Saxony, South Lower Saxony-Harz
  • North (Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg
    Pomerania) Regions: Hamburg, Kern, East Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Rostock-Schwerin, Schleswig-Holstein-Northwest, Schleswig-Holstein-Southeast, West Pomerania
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
    regions: Düsseldorf-Bergisch Land, Emscher-Lippe, Cologne-Bonn, Mülheim-Essen-Oberhausen, Münsterland, Lower Rhine,
    North Rhine-Westphalia South-West, Dortmund-Hellweg, East Westphalia-Lippe, Ruhr-Mark, South Westphalia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate - Saarland
    Regions: Koblenz, Rheinhessen-Nahe, Saar, Trier, Front and South Palatinate, West Palatinate
  • Saxony
    regions: South-West Saxony, Dresden-Upper Elbe Valley, Leipzig-North Saxony, East Saxony

Section 11 of the DGB statutes contains the regulations on the districts and regions.

DGB youth

The DGB-Jugend is the youth organization of the DGB.

DGB educational offers

Union press

The trade union monthly books were the theoretical discussion body of the DGB from 1950 to 2004. The DGB has been publishing the online magazine Gegenblende since December 14th . Gegenblende is the successor to the DGB debate blog “Diskurs”.

In addition, the union's own weekly newspaper Welt der Arbeit was published, which had to be closed in 1988. In addition to the naturally insufficient circulation of all union-owned newspapers, at the beginning of the 1950s they turned down the one-off offer to buy the renowned daily Die Welt from the British occupying power for DM 400,000  - the contract then went to Axel Springer Verlag .

The IG Metallers form the largest group of DGB youth

From 1950 onwards, the DGB published the functionaries' magazine "Die Quelle", which was discontinued in 1997 and replaced by the newsletter einblick from 1998 onwards.

further activities


Standard publications on the DGB:

  • Sources on the history of the German trade union movement in the 20th century . Cologne 1985 ff.
  • Hans-Otto Hemmer, Kurt-Thomas Schmitz (Hrsg.): History of the trade unions in the Federal Republic of Germany. From the beginning until today . Bund-Verlag, Cologne 1990.
  • Michael Schneider: A short history of the trade unions. Your development in Germany from the beginning until today . Bonn 2000.
  • Klaus Schönhoven: The German trade unions . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987.
  • Theo Pirker: The blind power. The trade union movement in West Germany . Two volumes. Berlin 1960

Current scientific publications (alphabetically):

  • Ulrich Borsdorf, Karl Lauschke: Hans Böckler . Two volumes. Klartext, Essen 2005.
  • Severin Cramm: Under the sign of European integration. The DGB and the ECSC negotiations 1950/51 , in: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  • Frank Deppe: Unions in the Great Transformation. From the 1970s until today. An introduction, Cologne 2011.
  • Dieter Dowe et al. (Ed.): The German Trade Union Federation 1969-1975 . Publishing house JHW Dietz, Bonn 2013.
  • Sascha Kristin Futh: The DGB discovered the campaign. The struggle for a non-working Saturday , in: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  • Jan Hansen: Do missiles create jobs? The dispute over retrofitting and armaments conversion in the trade unions (around 1979 to 1983) , in: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  • Hans-Otto Hemmer: Only a remaining stock? - 60 years of DGB . In: Yearbook for Research on the History of the Labor Movement , Volume III / 2009.
  • Jens Hildebrandt: Trade unions in divided Germany. The relations between DGB and FDGB from the Cold War to the New Ostpolitik 1955 to 1969. Röhrig Universitätsverlag, St. Ingbert 2010.
  • Robert Lorenz: Union twilight. History and perspectives of German trade unions . transcript, Bielefeld 2013.
  • Walther Müller-Jentsch: Trade unions and the social market economy since 1945 . Reclam, Stuttgart 2011
  • Wolfgang Schroeder , Bernhard Weßels: The trade unions in politics and society in the Federal Republic of Germany. A manual. West German Publishing House, Wiesbaden 2003.


  • Juri Hälker, Claudius Vellay (ed.): Union Renewal. Unions in renewal. Texts from international trade union research. Edition of the Hans Böckler Foundation 2006,
  • Anton Pelinka : Trade unions in the party state. A comparison between the German and the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (= contributions to political science . Volume 37). Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-04583-1 .
  • Eberhard Fehrmann: Death of a clown - From the long death of the unified trade union DGB, supplement to the journal Socialism 6/2009, ISBN 978-3-89965-952-8
  • Reinhold Nimptsch: “Productive refugee aid from the trade unions: New organizational methods for the construction of 10,000 apartments”; Cologne 1950

See also

Web links

Commons : German Trade Union Confederation  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. DGB Federal Board: Founding of the German Federation of Trade Unions. Retrieved February 27, 2019 .
  2. ^ DGB federal executive committee: Aachen is the "cradle of the unified trade union". Retrieved April 15, 2019 .
  3. a b Statutes of the DGB , accessed on January 29, 2018
  4. ^ Chronological overview DGB
  5. See Sascha Kristin Futh: The DGB discovers the campaign. The struggle for a non-working Saturday , in: Work - Movement - History. Journal for Historical Studies , Issue II / 2016.
  6. a b Basic program of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) (PDF, 312 kB) , accessed on April 16, 2018
  7. a b Action program of the DGB 1997
  8. 18th Ordinary DGB Federal Congress - May 2006
  9. 19th DGB Federal Congress - Parliament of Labor , accessed on April 16, 2018
  10. Information on the Parliament of Labor - 20th Ordinary Federal Congress
  11. Documentation Capitalism Congress I 14.-15. May 2009 (ZIP, 4 MB) , accessed April 16, 2018
  12. ^ DGB - Federal Board: Membership numbers of the DGB trade unions. Retrieved October 18, 2019 .
  13. ^ DGB - Federal Board: DGB membership figures 1950-1993. Retrieved January 16, 2018 .
  14. Daily Minutes May 23, 2006 of the 18th Federal Congress
  15. ^ Resolved motions of the 18th Federal Congress
  16. Applications in area "B: Union leadership"
  18. Election results of the 20th Federal Congress 2014 ( Memento of May 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) on, accessed on May 14, 2014
  19. The DGB districts and their subdivisions , accessed on January 29, 2018
  20. ^ Online edition of the trade union monthly bulletins
  21. Thomas Kröter: Bulky waste or countervailing power? Subjective comments on the state and prospects of the trade union press (PDF; 61 kB) In: trade union monthly books, 3/86, pp. 172–180
  22. ^ Sascha Kristin Futh: Strategic Communication of Trade Unions, Wiesbaden 2018, p. 133
  23. ^ Blog Tax Justice Network Germany, list of partners on the right