ICT – Our Industry, Our Union

ICT – Our Industry, Our Union

IG Metall – our union

IG Metall is a strong partner for the many employees of the IT and telecommunications sector. In Germany, more than one million people already work in this sector. It is the country’s largest employer after the mechanical engineering industry.

IG Metall works hand in hand with employees to ensure that the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Germany is strongly competitive and sustainably managed; and to promote good work and fair conditions in the enterprises concerned.

The progressive digitalisation of business and society (Industry 4.0) means that increasing numbers of employees are confronted either directly or indirectly with new developments in information and telecommunications technology. For all of them, IG Metall is a competent and assertive partner representing their very diverse interests. This also applies to the many IT specialists sourced through agencies, who often work under inferior conditions to colleagues in the corporate workforce. Regardless of whether someone has a permanent job, operates solo on a self-employed basis, or offers his/her services on a temporary or service contract basis, or as a crowd worker: IG Metall is the union for all ICT employees.

Competent and effective

IG Metall is present throughout the sector – in major software groups, telecommunications enterprises, data processing centres and systems houses.

But the union is also anchored in many small and medium size ICT companies and start-ups, including development and consultancy businesses, as well as providers of other IT services.

IG Metall also supports IT experts involved in IT application companies in their organisational spheres – for example IT professionals in the automotive industry and its suppliers, in machine and plant manufacturing, and throughout the metal-processing and electrical industry.

IG Metall draws its strength and competence from the ideas, know-how and engagement of its almost 2.3 million members in Germany. This is what makes it a respected and effective social force, not only in companies, but also on a political level.

Contact partners close at hand

In the workplace the people to contact are IG Metall workplace representatives and IG Metall works councils. They in turn are supported for example by local IG Metall offices (www.igmetall.de/vor-ort-269.htm). Some ICT companies also have IG Metall representatives on their supervisory boards. This means that the union is active throughout, from top management level right down to the shop floor and project teams – acting in the interests and to the advantage both of employees and the whole sector.

Workplace: primary arena of action

The digital sector is regarded as innovative, forward-looking and modern; promising employees a good income, secure jobs, long-term employment prospects and ample room for manoeuvre. But the sector is undergoing a period of extremely dynamic change. Markets are being shaken up domestically and internationally. Technologies are in a state of continuous advance. Value creation chains are disintegrating and being put together again anew. Many ICT companies react to this by outsourcing functions, by cooperating with subcontractors and also by increasing internal flexibility. Nowadays software products, for example, are increasingly being created in “digital information spaces” – in a virtual cloud – instead of physical locations. Companies are experiencing growing pressure to match up to this incessant process of change or to adapt to it.

This change entails considerable uncertainties for employees in the ICT sector. How secure is their job? And how long will that job exist at current conditions in the same location? How will working in the cloud, mobile working or crowd working affect their working conditions and their earnings?

Co-determination in the workplace is the central lever enabling employees and representatives of their interests to participate in steering these processes of change. Thus the workplace is the primary arena of action for IG Metall in bringing influence to bear on corporate and operational decisions in tandem with employees, and in their interests.

Strengthen employee participation

The German model of co-determination not only helped the corporate sector through the financial crisis of 2008/2009, but also through many other difficult situations. It guarantees workers’ representatives a voice on the supervisory board of a company and grants works councils wide-ranging rights to information and participation. An increasing number of colleagues in the ICT sector have recognised the value of workplace co-determination in recent years. This is clear from the growing number of works councils in the sector – even in enterprises previously critical of worker participation, such as SAP.

Together with IG Metall it was possible to mitigate the repercussions of offshoring and outsourcing for employees, to enforce fair pay structures and minimise the psychological pressures particularly associated with project-oriented work. In an era of ongoing globalisation and internationalisation of cooperation, ICT workers are benefiting from a culture of leadership and participation, enshrined in statutory rights to employee co-determination. It is here that they are most likely to experience appreciation from management and good work.

Collective agreements go better

Fair pay, calculable working hours, secure employment: these points are regulated by collective agreements in a growing number of companies in the ICT sector. More than half of employees in the sector already benefit from working conditions laid down in collective bargaining agreements – whether these are in-house agreements or recognition agreements, on the lines of the collective agreement for the metal-processing and electrical industries or, as with Atos and Wincor Nixdorf recently, the regional collective agreement for the sector.

Collective agreements are on the increase, notably in knowledge and development based companies. Employers like the fact that earnings and working conditions can be settled conclusively on this basis and are predictable. And for employees the trend is paying off literally, as revealed in IG Metall’s annual earnings survey for the ICT sector. Employees in companies with a collective agreement receive an average 11 per cent more pay. This is proven by the 18th IG Metall survey of the ICT sector in 2016. Those who work in businesses not bound by collective agreements not only receive less money, but have to work longer on average. This is another finding of the survey, which shows that fair wages and good working conditions for all employees in the ICT sector are only possible with union agreements. IG Metall is campaigning for this.

Political driving force

IG Metall is not only active in companies and workplaces. It is also closely involved in the economic discourse between politics, business and social groupings at regional, state and national levels. Through the medium of such dialogues, IG Metall’s agenda for good work in a digitalised society and a competitive, sustainably managed ICT industry flows directly into political or legislative proposals.

At the political level, one objective of IG Metall’s campaign is the modernisation of the ICT sector to promote employment and make it fit for the future. In order to match up to international competition, the union believes, there is a need for environmentally compatible technologies, good work, increased sustainability through employee involvement. On the topic of Industry 4.0, IG Metall advocates a sustainable development strategy for the ICT sector – not just in major companies but also in smaller ones – which guarantees employees secure jobs and new career opportunities. The union also takes a public stand on topics ranging from data security, (employee) data protection and digital work to civil liberties and human rights, as well as for more co-determination. It is also active at a political level in demanding better education, legislation to curb temporary work and contract work, for equal pay, for the right to revert from part-time employment, and for improved occupational pension provisions.

Special IG Metall service for crowd workers

Working in the cloud is already routine for many ICT employees. An increasing number of services – such as development or content creation for new software products – are implemented through internet platforms.

It is mostly the solo self-employed who earn their money this way – often under poorer conditions and considerably underpaid. Crowd working is still at an early stage in Germany, but in the US this form of work is already common practice. Experience there has seen crowd workers forming networks to exchange information about work standards and to demand fairer working conditions. IG Metall is making use of this basis to offer a special service for crowd workers in Germany. Using the IG Metall website www.faircrowdwork.org they can rate the internet platforms they work for, compare terms and conditions, and check whether they are being paid fairly. At the same time, the website creates more transparency in this form of digital work. A special hotline also provides crowd workers with information and advice.

Services for IG Metall members

There are plenty of reasons for an ICT employee to become a member of IG Metall. Not only to benefit from the advantages of successful collective bargaining and workplace policies. Members also receive personal advice and support from their IG Metall contact persons in the workplace or the local IG Metall office – in extraordinary or difficult situations, for instance. In addition they have access to legal protection in labour and social conflicts, as well as recreational accident insurance. They can also participate in a wide-ranging programme of further training, including free seminars on union and workplace topics, as well as personal and career development advice.

Any more questions?

Contact us by phone, or send us an email. The person to contact at IG Metall for the ICT sector in the IG Metall executive is Volker Fröhlich:
Telephone: 069-66 93 24 79
email: volker.froehlich@igmetall.de

Become a member online

IG Metall

Further Information

Handbook for AT-Employees [1261] Understand more about the world of employment – Your guide to the key facts In a nutshell: key points on labour law