Grappling with Democracy
Chapter 4: Labor in Germany: rapid transformations
The guild system was nested in German society, with the Hansa guilds in cities and the craft guilds in the home towns providing social security at a time when Germany comprised more than one hundred sovereignties. This explains both the lateness of any questioning of their existence and the attempts to create structure after Napoleon through a reinstatement of the guilds. The social security provided by the guilds was a motivation in 1830s Prussia as to implementing state social welfare and led to such a broad acceptance of state intervention that it was adopted on the national level in the 1870s to counteract the radical worker movement. The Nazi destruction of all worker rights led to strong constitutional protections of worker rights and voice in the 1950 Basic Law, which have continued in the present day German labor law model comprising works councils, employee board representation, and trade unions.
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