Confederation of German Trade Unions

Full name Confederation of German Trade Unions
Native name Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund
Founded 12 October 1949
Members 6.0 million
Affiliation ITUC, ETUC, TUAC
Key people Reiner Hoffmann (SPD), president
Office location Berlin, Germany
Country Germany

The Confederation of German Trade Unions (German: Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB) is an umbrella organisation (sometimes known as a national trade union center) for eight German trade unions, in total representing more than 6 million people (31 December 2011). It was founded in Munich, 12 October 1949.

The DGB coordinates joint demands and activities within the German trade union movement. It represents the member unions in contact with the government authorities, the political parties and the employers' organisations. However, the umbrella organisation is not directly involved in collective bargaining and does not conclude collective labour agreements.

Union delegates elect committees for 9 districts, 66 regions and the federal centre. The organisation holds a federal congress every four years. This assembly sets the framework for trade union policies and elects five Federal Executives. Together with the presidents of the member unions they constitute the DGB's executive committee. The members of the executive committee, together with the DGB regional presidents and 70 delegates from the unions, form a Federal Council which meets once a year to make decisions on national issues. The DGB also has a youth organisation, DGB-Jugend.

The DGB has its headquarters in Berlin. It is a member of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).


Until 1933

As first German confederation of unions at 14 March 1892 the Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften Deutschlands was founded in Halberstadt. It represented 57 national and some local unions with approximate 300,000 people in total. After World War I unions had to reorganise. During a congress in Nuremberg from 30 June until 5 July 1919 the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (ADGB) was founded as an umbrella organisation of 52 unions with more than 3 million members. The ADGB may be seen as predecessor of today's DGB. Like today, there also existed a conservative counterpart of lesser importance. Curiously, this conservative organisation was named Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB. On 2 May 1933 all trade unions were dissolved by the Nazis.


After World War II German unions had to reorganize once again.

On 9–11 February 1946 the Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB) was founded in Berlin as a confederation of 15 unions in the Soviet occupation zone.

On 23–25 April 1947 the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB was founded in Bielefeld as a confederation of 12 unions in the Allied-occupied Germany.

Foundations in the American occupation zone:
24/25 August 1946: Freier Gewerkschaftsbund Hessen
30 August – 1 September 1946: Gewerkschaftsbund Württemberg-Baden
27–29 March 1947: Bayerischer Gewerkschaftsbund

Foundations in the French occupation zone:
15/16 February 1947: Gewerkschaftsbund Süd-Württemberg und Hohenzollern
1/2 March 1947: Badischer Gewerkschaftsbund
2 May 1947: Allgemeiner Gewerkschaftsbund Rheinland-Pfalz

On 12–14 October, the 7 umbrella organisation in West Germany merged into the West German DGB as a confederation of 16 single trade unions.

Number of members, 30 June 1949
Allgemeiner Gewerkschaftsbund Rheinland-Pfalz       232,117
Badischer Gewerkschaftsbund 92,257
Bayerischer Gewerkschaftsbund 815,161
DGB of the British zone 2,885,036
Freier Gewerkschaftsbund Hessen 397,008
Gewerkschaftsbund Süd-Württemberg und Hohenzollern 75,502
Gewerkschaftsbund Württemberg-Baden 464,905
Total 4,961,986

Reunification – Present

In 1990, the members of the FDGB of the German Democratic Republic joined the members of the DGB. In recent years, many member unions of the DGB have merged, so today the DGB has only 8 members. This was seen as a progress by many unionists who hoped for strongrer representation, while others claim that strong member unions like ver.di with its two million members have considerably weakened the DGB as a roof organization.[1]

In general, the influence of German trade unions has declined since 1990 and had to accept shrinking real incomes and a reform of the welfare system in 2004 ("Hartz IV laws"), which put additional pressure on wages. For some years, the DGB and its member unions have been campaigning for a minimum wage to be introduced in Germany. Well into the 1990s, they had rejected this idea because they got better results from their strong position in the German system of collective bargaining.[2]



Members of DGB unions 2015[3]
Union Women Men In total
IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt (Construction, Agriculture, Environment) IG BAU 68,519 25.06% 204,873 74.94% 273,392 4.49%
IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (Mining, Chemicals, Energy) IG BCE 137,464 21.11% 513,717 78.89% 651,181 10.68%
Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (Education and Science) GEW 201,098 71.65% 79,580 28.35% 280,678 4.60%
IG Metall (Metalworkers) IGM 405,984 17.86% 1,867,759 82.14% 2,273,743 37.30%
Gewerkschaft Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten (Food, Beverages and Catering) NGG 85,354 41.87% 118,503 58.13% 203,857 3.34%
Gewerkschaft der Polizei (Police) GdP 42,191 23.85% 134,739 76.15% 176,930 2.90%
Eisenbahn- und Verkehrsgewerkschaft (Railway Workers) EVG 42,556 21.59% 154,538 78.41% 197,094 3.23%
Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (United Services Union) ver.di 1,060,591 52.02% 978,047 47.98% 2,038,638 33.44%
DGB in total DGB 2,043,757 33.53% 4,051,756 66.47% 6,095,513 100.00%


GEW // still existing, see above
NGG // still existing, see above
GdED – Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands // 2000 renamed to TRANSNET, see below // since 2010 EVG, see above
IGM // still existing, see above
Gewerkschaft Textil und Bekleidung .................. since 1998 part of IGM
Gewerkschaft Holz und Kunststoff .................... since 2000 part of IGM
IG BSE – IG Bau-Steine-Erden ........................ since 1996 IG BAU, see above
Gewerkschaft Gartenbau, Land- und Forstwirtschaft ... since 1996 IG BAU
IG BE – IG Bergbau und Energie ...................... since 1997 IG BCE, see above
IG Chemie, Papier, Keramik .......................... since 1997 IG BCE
Gewerkschaft Leder .................................. since 1997 IG BCE
DPG – Deutsche Postgewerkschaft ................................. since 2001 ver.di, see above
HBV – Gewerkschaft Handel, Banken und Versicherungen ............ since 2001 ver.di
ÖTV – Gewerkschaft Öffentliche Dienste, Transport und Verkehr ... since 2001 ver.di
IG Druck und Papier, "DruPa" .......... 1989 IG Medien .......... since 2001 ver.di
IG Kunst, Kultur und Medien ........... 1989 IG Medien .......... since 2001 ver.di

Other unions

In 1978 the Gewerkschaft der Polizei (GdP, see above) joined the DGB as 17th union.

The Deutsche Angestellten Gewerkschaft – DAG – was a large white collar trade union.
Although the DAG in the British zone 1946 was a member of the DGB in the British zone, the West German DAG never joined the West German DGB as a single member union.
But in 2001 the DAG merged with four existing DGB unions to become the new DGB union ver.di.

The Verkehrsgewerkschaft GDBA was a member of the German Civil Service Federation.
In 2010 the GDBA merged with existing DGB union TRANSNET to the new DGB union EVG.


districts with regions

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund.


  1. Hans-Otto Hemmer: Nur noch ein Restposten? – 60 Jahre DGB, in: Jahrbuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, No. III/2009.
  2. See also Hemmer 2009.
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