Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914

By Elaine Glovka Spencer | Go to book overview

10
Unsolved Problems

By 1912, the leaders of Ruhr heavy industry had cause to be reasonably satisfied with the results of their campaign to contain the union challenge in their region. Unions had failed to make any appreciable inroads into the primary iron and steel industry. Employers in metallurgy stressed their continuing "good" relations with their work force. Coal industrialists could take encouragement from their victory in the 1912 strike and from the government support their efforts had received in that confrontation. The striking unions had not been destroyed, but they had suffered a substantial setback. 1

Nonetheless, none of this was, from the employers' point of view, grounds for complacency. Rather it was an invitation to use their currently strengthened position vis-à-vis the labor movement to consolidate existing industrial authority and to tackle some of the long-term problems of managing labor. They perceived the most pressing of these problems to be winning or preserving the loyalty and willing cooperation of at least a core of the work force and forestalling any renewed surge of governmental regulation and public censure by finding alternatives to those employment practices, most notably the long hours in the iron and steel industry, that departed dramatically from the norm in the rest of German manufacturing.


Company Unions

Ruhr employers had long faced a growing problem of finding a convincing sanction for their authority, both on the job and in the wider community. Since the 1870s, their self-justification had often taken the form of an appeal to nationalism. The spokesmen of industry emphasized the supposed antinational character of the German working-class movement. The entrepreneurial elite attempted to supplement the theory of the identity of employer and worker interests within the individual factory community with the theory of the identity of management and labor interests within the national community.

-130-

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Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Coal, Iron, and Steel 8
  • 2 - The Entrepreneurial Elite 24
  • 3 - Ruhr Workers 40
  • 4 - Industry and Government 52
  • 5 - Initial Challenges 63
  • 6 - Company Welfare Programs 71
  • 7 - The Terms of Labor 80
  • 8 - Conflict and Readjustment 98
  • 9 - Containment 114
  • 10 - Unsolved Problems 130
  • Conclusion and Comparisons 139
  • Appendix A Ruhr Coal, Iron, and Steel Corporations 149
  • Appendix B Members of the Ruhr Entrepreneurial Elite 151
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 205
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