Historically, over the past 150 years, the labor union movement emerged as a means of enabling industrial workers to band together in an effort to match the power of management. Germany once had powerful trade unions, but there is an increasing trend for the unions to fragment into smaller entities and fight for the rights of a group rather than band together in solidarity with the mass of workers. Mini-organizations representing specialized employees are making strikes more frequent and more complex in resolving organizational disputes. Germany’s Lufthansa has ground workers in one group, attendants in another, pilots in still another segmented organization and no coherence between any of these entities. The result is turmoil for management and ineffectiveness in gaining organizational goals.
The splintering of labor representation is more harmful in fields such as the retail trade where management can readily find scabs to do the work of those on strike. The essence of historical labor unions was having people from a variety of jobs come together in a single union so management could not split them apart. When one entity went on strike all went with them which made for difficulty on the part of management to brush off demands. Ironically, as fragmentation proceeds, unions are becoming more aggressive and Germany is witnessing more strikes. The real issue is whether strikers are obtaining their goals.