Wage Policy and Industrial Relations

This research unit covers a wide range of pay and industrial relations issues including incomes policy, corporate codetermination, the process of the wage finding and the roles of the parties involved.

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Industrial relations in Germany are characterised by a dual system of representation. While employees are involved in decision-making in their company, wage agreements are concluded for the sector as a whole. The principle of free collective bargaining charges the representatives of employees and employers with the task of establishing general conditions. The aim is to distribute market incomes in such a way as to secure social cohesion and acceptance of the free market economy on the one hand, while preserving incentives, on the other. At the establishment level, Germany’s democratic works constitution is based on the principle of codetermination by works councils and workers’ representatives on supervisory boards. As representatives of the workforce, works councils are endowed with a statutory role in determining working conditions.

Sections of the Research Unit

Wage Policy

The researchers analyse the wage policy from a national and international perspective. It includes the development of wages and labour costs. A special topic is the question of price competitiveness. This is covered by comparing unit labour costs, productivity and hourly labour costs in an international perspective.

Industrial Relations

Topics in this policy area include issues of the collective bargaining process and co-determination. The researchers analyse conflict intensity in collective bargaining, industrial action and social partner relations. Analytical reports on industrial relations, working conditions and restructuring in Germany are, for example, prepared for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions – a tripartite European Union Agency based in Dublin.

Cooperation Partners

  • European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO)
  • European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO)
  • European Restructuring Monitor (ERM)
Hagen Lesch

Dr. Hagen Lesch

Head of the Research Unit Wage Policy and Industrial Relations

Tel+49 221 4981-778


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Christian Kestermann

Christian Kestermann

Economist at the IW Consult

Tel+49 221 4981-576


Helena Schneider

Helena Schneider

Economist for Wage Policy and Collective Bargaining

Tel+49 221 4981-665


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Christoph Schröder

Christoph Schröder

Senior Researcher for Income Policy, Wages and Working Time Policy

Tel+49 221 4981-773


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Sandra Vogel

Dr. Sandra Vogel

Senior Researcher for Industrial Relations

Tel+49 221 4981-746



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