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If the Works Council and the Company cannot reach an agreement) the points at issue must be referred to a Conciliation Committee or to the Labour Court. Works Councils in the above respects broadly perform the functions which British convenors and shop stewards perform at plant level, though with a more limited wage negotiation role. Minimum wage rates are governed by the collective bargaining agreements reached between trade unions and employers' associations at national or regional levels, and Works Councils are bound by law to observe these, though there is often provision for them to negotiate increments at plant level.

Thus far, Mrs Thatcher's laws seemed to be working. Legislation to control trade unions and strike action, however, is unlikely to succeed in the long run unless a reasonable degree of goodwill is established by greater involvement of the workforce in the running of their companies or services as a quid pro quo and in this respect Britain lags far behind West Germany. 4 Germany ORIGINS OF SUCCESS Worker participation is nothing new in Germany. Works Councils date from the Weimar Republic in the 1920s, though both they and the trade unions were suppressed by Hitler.

In the 19th Century the shareholders elected a Supervisory Board which appointed a Management Board. The Co-determination Act of 1951 required coal, iron and steel companies with more than 1ooo employees to set up parity representation on the Supervisory Board, whose minimum size was 11. Of these, 5 represented the work force, 5 the shareholders and the 11th was neutral, agreed by both sides, with a casting vote. The Works Constitution Act of 1952 made similar regulations for other public companies with more than 500 employees, requiring one third workers' representation on the Supervisory Board and the setting up of Works Councils.

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