So far, the unions have had a difficult time with the software manufacturer.
Düsseldorf The major trade unions have had a hard time at SAP for a long time: the degree of organization at the software manufacturer is low, independent groups dominate in the employee representatives. But the result of the current works council election at SAP SE, the parent company with almost 22,000 employees, is a turning point.
IG Metall and Verdi have been able to significantly strengthen their positions and will provide a total of 15 of the 45 representatives – a historic high for the software manufacturer. This is evident from the preliminary election results, which the electoral board published on Wednesday night.
The outgoing works council chairman Klaus Merx cites an important reason for the postponement: “The fact that the trade union groupings have become stronger is certainly also due to the meager salary round,” Merx told Handelsblatt. In addition, the works council was rocked by a scandal last year, in the course of which two employee representatives had to leave the group.
The “Pro Mitbestimmung” list of IG Metall has tripled its voting share at SAP SE to almost 19 percent and will provide nine works councils. This makes it the largest group. The second strongest force is “Triple E”, where several representatives of other groupings have gathered, with eight seats. The Verdi “Upgrade” list has received twelve percent of the votes and now has six representatives.
A total of twelve lists are represented, with six being allowed to send only one representative at a time. In comparison to corporations such as Volkswagen and Bayer, where the DGB trade unions receive voting shares of 80 percent and more, the employee representation of SAP is fragmented. The turnout was 43 percent, slightly less than four years ago.
Salary increase below inflation rate
SAP is widely regarded as an attractive employer. However, there has been widespread discontent among the workforce over pay. Since there is no collective agreement at SAP, the Executive Board sets the budget for salary increases. in 2022, it will be 2.7 percent more than in the previous year, which already includes funds for promotions – less than the inflation rate.
In the works council election campaign, both trade union lists positioned themselves on the issue, with the IG Metall taking a particularly offensive approach. She published a survey, according to which many employees are dissatisfied with the payment. The situation at SAP is “precarious,” claimed trade union Secretary Türker Baloglu. SAP criticized the investigation as not representative.
“More and more people have understood that it takes a strong partner in the background to represent employee interests,” commented Andreas Hahn, who heads Verdi’s “upgrade” list, on the election result. “The underground communication on the salary round in the SE has certainly contributed to this.“
In addition, there was a complex scandal about two high-ranking works councils on the “Stark” list, both of which have now had to leave SAP. The group lost significantly in the election, as did a coalition partner.
Alliances without IG Metall are also conceivable
“Pro Mitbestimmung” and “Upgrade” could form a majority together with a third list. This is not certain, there are disagreements between the two trade union groups, despite a cooperation agreement. Verdi “does not distinguish much from the other lists,” said Türker Baloglu of the IG Metall Heidelberg of the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”. He referred to the colleagues as “softies”.
Alliances without IG Metall are therefore also considered conceivable. “We are open in many directions and have had numerous discussions,” Andreas Hahn from the Verdi list signaled willingness to negotiate. In view of the fragmentation of the works council, at least three lists must come together in order to achieve a majority.
Works Council head Merx, who is going back to software development, wants a different model. “You always have to look for majorities on the substantive issue anyway – the distinction between government and opposition has never proven itself in recent years.“ He advocates filling posts proportionally, that is, according to the strength of the lists.
The employee representatives have a few weeks to think about it: the constituent meeting of the new works council is on May 5.