Angela Merkel came to greet them and said goodbye; at least virtually. The German economic and social model involves valuing the social partners, as is evident, for example, when heads of government attend employers’ or trade union conferences. However, the ceremony in autumn 2013 at the German Historical Museum was something special. After 17 years, Dieter Hundt resigned as president of the employer and was replaced by Ing Kramer. The SPD and the Union have just agreed on a coalition agreement including a statutory minimum wage and a pension of 63 (after 45 years of insurance), which the president of the new employer sharply criticized as the first official act. This in turn provoked Merkel to a sharp answer by her standards. The chancellor advised the new president that he would “need a moment” to come to terms with his predecessor. “After your confident start address, such a note is necessary.”
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Overall, over the next seven years, it worked well in collaboration with the Federal Association of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) or President BDA Kramer and members of the federal government. Also because Kramer is not an ideological lobbyist for capital, but rather as a metal entrepreneur he has a sense of participation and a fair balance of interests. Especially in the corona year, the welfare state and social partnership have proved their worth. “Absolutely honest skin,” says DGB President Rainer Hoffmann about his long-term partner Kramer. Hoffmann must now adapt to Rainer Dulger, who will be elected president of the BDA this Thursday.
Rainer Dulger, President of Gesamtmetall since 2012, will speak for all employers in the future. Photo: imago / photothek
Metal businessman watches metal businessman in the position of top employers. This shows the still paramount importance of industry, especially vehicles and engineering. Kramer in Bremerhaven operates in the marine technology sector, among others, while Dulger manufactures pumps in Heidelberg. Kramer, who will be 68 in January, will resign in the middle of his term so that Dulger (56) can settle in the Haus der Wirtschaft in Berlin-Mitte and influence coalition negotiations after the federal election in the fall of 2021.
Dulger has been president of the executive employers’ association Gesamtmetall since 2012, which also plays a major role in the BDA. However, many in the employers’ camp were surprised when Kramer nominated Dulger of all people as his successor. The first choice was Arndt Kirchhoff, president of the employer in North Rhine-Westphalia, but Angelique Renkhoff-Mücke, CEO of the manufacturer of the awning Warema and the only woman in the BDA presidium, did not want to. So Dulger comes into play. As in 2012 with Gesamtmetall. At that time, Martin Kannegiesser had other candidates on the list, but when they refused, they became Dulger. He reaffirmed his reservations when he named Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier “the weakest minister” in the government last year. This is unusual for a top official who has to communicate with politics.
He is not a man of loud tones
Ingo Kramer does not know such sounds. Exceptions confirm the rule. Five years ago, Kramer was a little upset when he rejected a draft of a new workplace ordinance with its over-regulation as “impractical plans from Absurdistan.” Over the years, however, the nice man from the coast was not loud enough for many employers and officials. It’s just not in his nature.
During these times in Corana, he gained respect in his own camp by not accepting everything the government expects from citizens and employers as an alternative. “It was horrible,” he wrote ten days ago to the federal and state prime ministers that he had registered plans that everyone should stay home if they had a cold or cough. “I hope you realize that everyone has a cold every year at this time of year.” If plans were to become a reality, “in fact, all businesses would stop immediately.” This did not happen. And, of course, Angela Merkel will appear briefly in a video at the BDA general meeting this morning to thank Kramer.