Kristina Schmidt, Wolfhard Kohte
October 18, 2016
The in-house Grievance Committees (Konfliktkommissionen) which existed in the works of the German Democratic Republic formed an important part of the labour constitution of this country. Their area of responsibility was firstly, to give guidance on and settle problems concerning work and employment and secondly, to mete out punishment for misdemeanours and offences committed outwith as well as within the factory premises. In 1990, it appeared desirable to maintain a system of non-judicial internal preliminary proceedings. Nevertheless, the statutory Arbitration Boards for Employment Disputes (Schiedsstellen für Arbeitsrecht) as the supposed successors of the Grievance Committees met with only little approval and are no longer in existence today. Thus there is a significant clash between the favourable prognosis for the newly created Arbitration Boards combined with an existing demand for an out of court mechanism for the resolution of employment conflicts and the rapid factual failure of this same mechanism. It is argued that this clash can be ascribed to the double function of the former Grievance Committees: They were bodies representing the interests of the working people on the one hand and at the same time instruments of education and self-discipline on the other hand. On the basis of the empirical findings we shall attempt to corroborate the thesis of the twofold function of the Grievance Committees and to provide a perspective on the future use of the experiences made with regard to the Grievance Committees.