Heinz Kluncker

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Heinz Kluncker, 1973

Heinz Kluncker (born February 20, 1925 in Barmen (today in Wuppertal ), † April 21, 2005 in Stuttgart ) was a German trade unionist . The trained industrial clerk was chairman of the ÖTV (today ver.di ) from 1964 to 1982 and was known for a tough wage policy and emphatic representation of employee demands. In 1974 he made headlines in wage negotiations with the Willy Brandt government when he pushed through an 11 percent wage increase (after garbage collectors had been on strike for three days).


The son of a social democratic locksmith grew up as an only child in Wuppertal. There he graduated from elementary school in 1939 and trained as an industrial clerk in the textile wholesale trade. He joined the Hitler Youth , which he later regretted. In 1942 he passed a clerk's examination and worked as a travel agent . In 1943 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht . In June 1944 deserted it in the Normandy and went to US -American prisoner of war , during which he for Atlanticist was.

In 1946 Kluncker was released from the USA to Germany, worked as a police officer and joined the ÖTV and the SPD . In the same year he switched to the ÖTV as a full-time secretary . From 1949 to 1951 he studied economics and business administration , sociology and law in the 2nd course at the Academy for Community Economy in Hamburg . Heinz Oskar Vetter was his fellow student during his studies . His academic teachers included the sociologist Helmut Schelsky and the later Federal Minister Karl Schiller . From 1952 Kluncker was a clerk at the ÖTV in Stuttgart .

From 1964 on he was chairman of the ÖTV, which at that time had 1.4 million members. When he took office, the 39-year-old was Germany's youngest union leader. He was able to achieve far-reaching and groundbreaking collective bargaining agreements in tough collective bargaining . This included the introduction of the 40-hour week and the 13th monthly salary in the public sector .

In 1964 he was the first in the DGB to contact communist unions in Eastern Europe . His trip to Karlsbad in Czechoslovakia in 1965 was considered a political sensation. He later conferred with the FDGB the GDR and was the first German trade union boss, the official relations with Communist unions resumed. While this for detente fit the SPD pushed his participation in two meetings of the Polish Solidarity -Opposition (when?) Their disapproval.

"Kluncker Round"

In 1974, Kluncker led the most violent public service strike : with a three-day strike by garbage collectors and trams , the ÖTV, against the will of Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, achieved a wage increase of 11%, whereby the rate of inflation in February 1974 was between 9 and 10 percent (inflation rate for 1974 : 6.9%). Many ÖTV members were not at all satisfied with the result. But both denied that this had contributed to Brandt's resignation . In the previous autumn / winter, the first oil crisis had quadrupled the price of crude oil (20-30% higher prices for petrol and diesel ; higher prices for heating oil ); the unions argued that the foreseeable loss of purchasing power of the DM had to be compensated in advance by this substantial wage increase. The wage round was also known as the Kluncker round. Many economists accused Kluncker and the trade unions of having set a wage-price spiral in motion with this too high deal , including the then Bundesbank Vice-President Otmar Emminger . The years that followed were marked by stagflation and eurosclerosis . In 1979 there was a second oil crisis.

From 1978 to 1982 Kluncker was also Vice President of the International Transport Workers Union . Until 1985 he remained head of the Public Services International (PSI). In 1992 he helped set up independent trade union organizations in Croatia .

Resignation and last years

On June 2, 1982 he resigned from his post on medical advice, but surprisingly for politics. At the time, he weighed 135 kilograms and had severe cardiovascular problems. His successor in the role of union chairman was Monika Wulf-Mathies .
In the 1980s , at the request of Willy Brandt (SPD party chairman from 1964 to 1987), he became involved in the SPD program commission . From 1990 to 1995 Kluncker was the chairman of the senior citizens' council .

In the last years of his life, Kluncker lived a secluded life in Stuttgart. He died in April 2005 after a serious illness, a few weeks after his 80th birthday.

The grave of Heinz Kluncker, Pragfriedhof Stuttgart.

An obituary said: Always called “the fat one” by good friends and critics alike due to his size, he was considered the most powerful union leader in Germany, and his booming voice was all too suitable. For many business leaders he was often "the nation's bogeyman". It was noted with approval that his conduct of negotiations was independent of whether his opponents were from the SPD or (such as Interior Minister Genscher ) from the FDP . The ver.di -Vorsitzende Frank Bsirske praised Kluncker in a press release late April as "important person" and "pioneer of reconciliation with the East ."


In May 2009, the lower part of Oberbergische Strasse in Wuppertal was renamed Heinz-Kluncker-Strasse .


  • ÖTV trade union (ed.): Heinz Kluncker. A portrait for the seventieth birthday . Courier publishing house, Stuttgart undated (1995).
  • Hans-Otto Hemmer, Hartmut Simon (ed.): Always a little different . In: It depends on the effect: Conversations with Heinz Kluncker . Bund-Verlag, 1st edition 2000, ISBN 978-3766332035 .
  • Karl Christian Führer: Union power and its limits - the ÖTV and its chairman Heinz Klunker 1964–1982, Bielefeld 2017, ISBN 978-3-8394-3927-2

Web links

Commons : Heinz Kluncker  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. spiegel.de July 14, 1965: Bacilli in the bathroom
  2. Spiegel February 4, 1974: Strike: We are not impotent suitors (warning strikes), February 18, 1974: We cut the juice ; Willy Brandt: You all leave me alone (The Federal Chancellor is thinking of resigning. Since the wage war with the ÖTV, which, in his opinion, ended with too high a deal, the head of government believes he is the comrades in the party and the friends in the trade unions abandoned.)
  3. ^ Federal Statistical Office: Prices - consumer price indices for Germany - long series from 1948. SS 4 , accessed on May 15, 2020 .
  4. ^ Karl Christian Führer: What does union power do ?, in ver.di-Publik, 6/2017, p. 9.
  5. ↑ He affirmed this in his autobiography DM, Dollar, Currency Crises , 1986.