The government`s policy of separating trade unions and promoting business unions vis-à-vis national and industrial unions has stifled the trade union movement. Only 3% of private sector employees are unionized and less than 2% are covered by collective agreements. While the number of unions has increased, most unions are internal unions with fewer than 100 members. Collective agreements in Germany are legally binding, which is accepted by the public, and this is not a cause for concern.  [Failed verification] While in the United Kingdom there was (and probably still is) an “she and us” attitude in labour relations, the situation is very different in post-war Germany and in some other northern European countries. In Germany, the spirit of cooperation between the social partners is much greater. For more than 50 years, German workers have been represented by law on boards of directors.  Together, management and workers are considered “social partners.”  The alliance with its network of 40 unions and IKEA employees from 16 countries says the company has not lived up to its values at home and has highlighted serious disagreements in IKEA`s approach to workers` rights abroad. There is a clear separation between IKEA`s Nordic divisions, where workers` rights are widely respected, and beyond, where they are often ignored and abused. Unions may submit collective agreements on behalf of their members, but the Industrial Relations Act (Part IV) prohibits these agreements to deal with all matters relating to promotions, transfers, service terminations, dismissal and reductions. Thereafter, the employer has 21 days to recognize the union.
If the employer does not provide recognition within the time limit, the matter is referred to the Director General of Labour Relations for conciliation. This is a very difficult process and dispute resolution usually takes years. 53 The case of Menteri Sumber Manusia v. Association of Bank Officers, Peninsular Malaysia (1999) 2 M.L.J. 337 states that workers employed in leadership positions collectively negotiate unions made up exclusively of workers of their species. However, the case also shows that the concept of “executive capacity1 is broad, contrary to the ILO`s position.” In this case, the promotion of bank receivers and auditors to the status of “internal official” removed them from the jurisdiction of membership of the National Union of Bank Employees and placed them in the team of an executive union.