The 5th Ver.di congress (held in Leipzig) was opened on the 22nd of September 2019 by the Federal President Walter Steinmeier who praised the existence of Verdi as an important actor of the German democratic society as a whole. At this congress, the mandate of the well-known President Frank Bsirske came to an end. Media largely reported on his remarkable contributions of the last 18 years. On the 24th of September, the Ver.di Congress elected a new executive bureau, headed by newly elected Ver.di President Frank Warneke. The USF Sec.Gen. was invited to the Congress and warmly congratulated.
The Congress discussions with about 1000 delegates (Ver.di has 2 million members) were very inspiring. Amongst the many subjects were the consequences of digitalization, equal opportunities, minimum wages, the precariousness of work, immigration, the rise of right-wing extremism, recruiting young members, and preserving the collective wage agreement principle which is well established in Germany, but increasingly unpopular with employers.
Ver.Di, in a few words :
The trade union movement developed with industrialization. A working time of 13 hours per day or more was normal until the middle of the 19th century – without even one day’s holiday. The employees were also exposed to the arbitrariness of their employers without any rights. There was also no continued payment of wages in the event of illness, not to mention unemployment benefit or pensions. And the reward was not enough to feed a family. The sheer hardship was a daily guest in the poor accommodations of working-class families. They were skilled workers who were the first to realise that only through cohesion and solidarity can they form a force strong enough to improve their situation.