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German Confederation of Trade Unions


German Confederation of Trade Unions

File:DGB logo.png
Full name Confederation of German Trade Unions
Native name Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund
Founded October 1949
Members 7.0 million
Country Germany
Affiliation ITUC, ETUC, TUAC
Key people Michael Sommer (SPD), president
Office location Berlin, Germany

The Confederation of German Trade Unions (German: Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) is an umbrella organisation (sometimes known as a national trade union center) for eight German trade unions, in total representing more than 6 million people (31 December 2011). It was founded in Munich, 12 October 1949.

The DGB coordinates joint demands and activities within the German trade union movement. It represents the member unions in contact with the government authorities, the political parties and the employers' organisations. However, the umbrella organisation is not directly involved in collective bargaining and does not conclude collective labour agreements.

Union delegates elect committees for 9 districts, 66 regions and the federal centre. The organisation holds a federal congress every four years. This assembly sets the framework for trade union policies and elects five Federal Executives. Together with the presidents of the member unions they constitute the DGB's executive committee. The members of the executive committee, together with the DGB regional presidents and 70 delegates from the unions, form a Federal Council which meets once a year to make decisions on national issues. The DGB also has a youth organisation, DGB-Jugend.

The DGB has its headquarters in Berlin. It is a member of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).


Until 1933

As first German confederation of unions at 14 March 1892 the Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften Deutschlands was founded in Halberstadt. It represented 57 national and some local unions with approximate 300,000 people in total. After World War I unions had to reorganise. During a congress in Nuremberg from 30 June until 5 July 1919 the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (ADGB) was founded as an umbrella organisation of 52 unions with more than 3 million members. The ADGB may be seen as predecessor of today's DGB. Like today, there also existed a conservative counterpart of lesser importance. Curiously, this conservative organisation was named Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB. On 2 May 1933 all trade unions were dissolved by the Nazis.


After World War II German unions had to reorganize once again.

On 9–11 February 1946 the Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB) was founded in Berlin as a confederation of 15 unions in the Soviet occupation zone.

On 23–25 April 1947 the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB was founded in Bielefeld as a confederation of 12 unions in the Allied-occupied Germany.

Foundations in the American occupation zone:
24/25 August 1946: Freier Gewerkschaftsbund Hessen
30 August – 1 September 1946: Gewerkschaftsbund Württemberg-Baden
27–29 March 1947: Bayerischer Gewerkschaftsbund

Foundations in the French occupation zone:
15/16 February 1947: Gewerkschaftsbund Süd-Württemberg und Hohenzollern
1/2 March 1947: Badischer Gewerkschaftsbund
2 May 1947: Allgemeiner Gewerkschaftsbund Rheinland-Pfalz

On 12–14 October, the 7 umbrella organisation in West Germany merged into the West German DGB as a confederation of 16 single trade unions.

Number of members, 30 June 1949
DGB of the British zone 2,885,036
Freier Gewerkschaftsbund Hessen 397,008
Gewerkschaftsbund Württemberg-Baden 464,905
Bayerischer Gewerkschaftsbund 815,161
Gewerkschaftsbund Süd-Württemberg und Hohenzollern 75,502
Badischer Gewerkschaftsbund 92,257
Allgemeiner Gewerkschaftsbund Rheinland-Pfalz 232,117
Total 4,961,986

Reunification – Present

In 1990 the members of the FDGB of the German Democratic Republic joined the members of the DGB. In recent years many member unions of the DGB have merged, so today the DGB only has 8 members. This was seen as a progress by many unionists who hoped for strongrer representation, while others claim that strong member unions like ver.di with its two million members have considerably weakened the DGB as a roof organization.[1] In general, the influence of German trade unions has declined since 1990, they had to accept shrinking real incomes and a reform of the welfare system in 2004 ("Hartz IV laws") that put additional pressure on wages. For some years the DGB and its member unions have been campaigning for a minimum wage to be introduced in Germany. Well into the 1990s they had rejected this idea because they got better results Because of their strong position in the German system of collective bargaining.[2]



(total: 6,155,899 members = 100%; all values: 2011-12-31)


  • GEW
  • NGG
  • GdED – Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands (2000 renamed to TRANSNET, 2010 unified to EVG)
  • IGM
  • Gewerkschaft Textil und Bekleidung (since 1998 part of IGM)
  • Gewerkschaft Holz und Kunststoff (since 2000 part of IGM)
  • IG BSE – IG Bau-Steine-Erden (since 1996 IG BAU)
  • Gewerkschaft Gartenbau, Land- und Forstwirtschaft (since 1996 IG BAU)
  • IG BE – IG Bergbau und Energie (since 1997 IG BCE)
  • IG Chemie, Papier, Keramik (since 1997 IG BCE)
  • Gewerkschaft Leder (since 1997 IG BCE)
  • DPG – Deutsche Postgewerkschaft (since 2001 ver.di)
  • HBV – Gewerkschaft Handel, Banken und Versicherungen (since 2001 ver.di)
  • ÖTV – Gewerkschaft Öffentliche Dienste, Transport und Verkehr (since 2001 ver.di)
  • IG Druck und Papier, "DruPa" (1989 IG Medien, since 2001 ver.di)
  • IG Kunst, Kultur und Medien (1989 IG Medien, since 2001 ver.di)

Other unions

In 1978 the Gewerkschaft der Polizei (GdP, see above) joined the DGB as 17th union.

The Deutsche Angestellten Gewerkschaft – DAG – was a large white collar trade union.
Although the DAG in the British zone 1946 was a member of the DGB in the British zone, the West German DAG never joined the West German DGB as a single member union.
But in 2001 the DAG merged with four existing DGB unions to become the new DGB union ver.di.


districts with regions

  • Baden-Württemberg: 4 regions
  • Bayern: 14 regions
  • Berlin/Brandenburg: 4 regions
  • Hessen/Thüringen: 6 regions
  • Niedersachsen/Bremen/Sachsen-Anhalt: 10 regions
  • Nord (Niedersachsen/Bremen/Sachsen-Anhalt): 7 regions
  • Nordrhein-Westfalen: 11 regions
  • Sachsen: 4 regions
  • West (Rheinland-Pfalz/Saarland): 6 regions

See also

Organized labour portal


  • F.Deppe/G.Fülberth/H.J.Harrer: Geschichte der deutschen Gewerkschaftsbewegung ISBN 3-7609-0290-1

External links

  • Official site in German


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