Non-union workers' council for SAP

Council to be formed, but not the kind German union wanted

SAP has taken steps to form a workers council comprised of non-union employees in an effort to fend off what the German software vendor views as the harmful influence of unions on its “start-up” company culture.

SAP issued a statement earlier this month announcing the decision by eight employee representatives who currently sit on the company’s supervisory board to organise a workers council election themselves.

“If SAP is to have a workers council, then it should be a workers council that is representative of the heart of the company,” chief executive Henning Kagermann said in a statement. “We have a duty to maintain our unique company culture and values.”

The move follows an attempt by three SAP employees who are members of Germany’s IG Metall union to establish a workers council at the company. The move was denounced by Dietmar Hopp and Hasso Plattner, who are cofounders and major shareholders of SAP, as potentially damaging to its culture, and by 91% of SAP’s employees who voted against such a move on March 2.

The IG Metall employees turned to a German court to help win support for their efforts. A petition to install an election committee for selecting candidates was lodged with the Mannheim labour court, which is scheduled to announce a ruling on April 11.

SAP is the largest company in Germany to be without a workers council. Earlier attempts to establish such a representative body have failed, lacking support from employees.

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