German word of the day: Gewerkschaft

Freya Jones
Freya Jones - [email protected]
German word of the day: Gewerkschaft
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Amid Germany's second day of rail strikes, this is a word you’ll likely be seeing a lot of.


What does it mean?

Eine Gewerkscahft is a labour-force organisation, similar to trade unions or guilds in the UK and other workers’ unions across Europe. The word spiked in use in the early 20th century and literally means “workers’ collective”, with the suffix “-schaft” denoting a group, as it often does.

Why do I need to know Gewerkschaft? 

The ongoing three-day strike in Deutsche Bahn rail services has been organised by the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer (The Union of German Train Drivers), which is lobbying for those in the industry to receive better pay and working hours. 

Other well-known German unions include the Vereinte Dienstlietungsgewerkscahft (better known as ver.di) which led major multi sector strikes in November 2023 and IG Bau-Agrar-Umwelt (The Union of Construction, Agriculture and Environment). Both are members of the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, a confederation of the largest trade unions in Germany.

In our current times of political and economic uncertainty, die Gewerkschaften will most likely continue playing an important role in organising further workers’ action for 2024.

READ ALSO: The strikes that could hit life in Germany in 2024

How can I use this word?

Die Gewerkschaft der Polizei ist verhandlungsbereit.

The Police Workers’ Union is willing to negotiate.

Die Gewerkschaft wird diese Arbeitsbedingung auf keinen Fall akzeptieren.

There’s no way the union will accept these working conditions.

Die Gewerkschaft hat nochmals Streiks organisiert.

The union’s organised strikes again.



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