Germany: union and EU-elections

Hereby we publish an unofficial translation of an article published in Dem Volke Dienen.

Dear Editors of Dem Volke Dienen,

first of all, we would like to thank you for the great informative and clear work that you have been doing for so many years. Then let’s introduce ourselves. We are some colleagues from the so-called service proletariat. We are, of course, unionized. In this context, our choice, which we do not have in the question of trade union organization, falls on the ver.di [German trade union within the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB); translators note]. From time to time we meet and discuss questions within the job and trade union work. We also occasionally talk about what is published in the ‘public’ [the newspaper of ver.di; translators note]. Since we are neither within the ver.di or elsewhere really listened to, we have decided to write this letter hoping you will publish it. Of course only if you agree with its content in general.

In issue 3/2024 of the publik, the slogan “Your vote for Europe” is emblazoned on the front page and below it are some lines of an appeal, which Frank Wernecke, Chairman of the ver.di, wrote. We considered whether we should perhaps say a few words about Frank Wernecke, but then came to the conclusion that we would rather focus on the content of the call for the European elections. Frank Wernecke is probably well-known to most ver.di members and equally unpopular, he is the one who regularly, as the head of the negotiating delegations with the bosses or workforce-buyers (we think the term employer is completely inappropriate in view of the fact that we are the ones who have to give their work, i.e. sell it,) is also personally responsible for the betrayal of our demands – whether at the post, in the public service or at public transport.

But now really on to the actual topic, the EU elections. The second sentence says: “The EU needs us!“ and in fact, this is not completely wrong. The EU needs us – but what does that mean? When the colleagues from the railways recently went on strike – not in a so–called “full strike”, but still in a “warning strike”, it was suddenly said that this would be totally inappropriate, because the colleagues actually did something with their strike – an economic damage to the Deutsche Bahn AG. With some successes, which the GdL was able to attach to the lapel, this strike was also stalled halfway through. Nevertheless, voices were raised from many sides who advocated a further restriction of the right to strike (which actually does not exist in Germany at all). So the EU needs us as a trade union (ver.di always claims that we are all ver.di), which actually represents the interests of the workers and enforces them against the interests of the bosses? Does the EU need educators who stand up against the intolerable situation in the German daycare centers and who are at least fighting for acceptable working conditions and good childcare? We think the pictures of the farmers who tried to impose their interests against Brussels the other day are still remembered by many. In Germany, they were first called Nazis and then beaten up by the police and their tractors were broken. In Brussels, they were attacked with tear gas and water cannons. Anyone who actually believes that the EU needs workers and toilers who are fighting for their rights and their needs probably also believes in Santa Claus.

But then who is this “us” that the EU needs? To do this, we must first ask ourselves, what is the EU. A text has just been published on your website in which it is said that the EU is “an alliance of European countries under the hegemony of Germany”, “an alliance of the imperialists”. So there are very different interests that come together within the EU. Frank Wernecke and ver.di represent German interests accordingly when it comes to matters of the EU. Thus, the rhetorical “The EU needs us!” translated or freed from the veil of bourgeois propaganda: German finance capital needs loyal and compliant workers! It needs workers who not only shut up, who not only do not strike seriously, it needs workers who join the ranks with German imperialism against the workers from other European countries, and especially against the workers from the third world. This is what Frank Wernecke is asking us to do, and this is what the DGB trade unions are actually implementing in the so-called “concerted action” together with the bosses and under the leadership of the government.

Immediately afterwards, the appeal for the “defense of our democracy and our freedom” takes place. As for Frank Wernecke and ver.di opinion, this is the need to defend the existing ruling order. He is thus blowing the same horn as Federal President Steinmeier did recently in his speech on the anniversary of the Basic Law. Further in the text, Wernecke speaks of the millions who sent a strong and encouraging signal against the rightists during the “big demonstrations”. Of course, we think it is good that a large part of the people in the country reject fascism and want to oppose it somewhat, but we must also be aware that these demonstrations were mainly pro-government demonstrations. Like so many things that are currently taking place in the media public, they are part of a campaign, especially by the SPD, to prevent the CDU from coalescing with the AfD, in which this is made impossible and the SPD politicians can continue to sit at their comfortable posts. This is their motivation, also from ver.di. In questions of democracy and freedom, it is enough, in our opinion, to recall what was established many years ago in the struggle of our class: democracy is about choosing every few years who may represent us and trample us down for the next few years, and our freedom as workers consists above all in being free from the possession of means of production and being free in the choice of our exploiters. “Democracy and freedom” are not for the workers, they are not our ideals, they are the ideals of those who dominate us, who exploit and oppress us, because they dominate us precisely because of this. That’s what Frank Wernecke wants to defend.

But Frank Wernecke does not stop there. It is not only the status quo that is to be maintained. He, like German imperialism, wants more. This hides a little more than the previously mentioned obviousness. Wernecke writes of “a time in which the USA as a world power is heading towards an uncertain future. Europe must assert itself with its own strength and unity in a complex world.“ It’s been a few years and maybe one or the other may have missed it in view of the serious crisis here in the country that has been going on for years, but you once published a long text about the aspiration of German imperialism to make the leap to become a superpower. This text was very important for a few of us at that time and opened our eyes to where the path should go according to the will of the rulers in Germany and what means they are setting in motion for this. Just because things are not going really well right now, the rulers of Germany have not given up their desire to become rulers of the world.

If we now summarize these three aspects, then we come to the conclusion that ver.di and Frank Wernecke calls on us, the workers organized in ver.di, to be loyal subjects, to close ranks with our enemy, to be able to make the leap to become an imperialist superpower for its great goal.

We are against it and we are disgusted by it. A union should not do such low things. Rather, it should make it clear that we workers have absolutely nothing good to expect from the EU, as well as from the federal and state governments or local administrations. Elections do not serve us. They never have and will not in the future. A union should encourage us to fight and not encourage us to vote. We do not want to be slaves and because we are forced to be so, we have to fight – the Federal Republic is not a community of fate, nor is it the EU, but it is the organizational form of class rule over us and our struggle, also and especially the economic struggle, which is led by the trade unions, must serve to overcome these conditions, otherwise we march disorientatedly from defeat to defeat.

We remain with solidarity greetings,

some “red colleagues” in the ver.di

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