Organised capitalism, as a distinct mode of political economy, is generally held to be under serious threat, not least from the apparently inexorable logic and pressures of “globalisation”. The challenge represented by these forces is intensified in Germany by the constraints imposed by the requirement to fulfil those Maastricht Treaty criteria appertaining to establishing Economic and Monetary Union. However, Germany additionally faces the unprecedented task of integrating the former GDR, a regime which was both literally and metaphorically bankrupt in so many respects. So far, that integration has not succeeded, least of all industrially. The implications are manifold and complex ‐ yet what seems to be quite certain is that the combined, accumulated burden of all the relevant problems and difficulties has come to bear primarily on working people in Germany and on their representative organisations. This first paper represents an initial exploration of key parameters affecting labour, the second proposes to do so both more broadly and in greater depth.
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