Status: 06.04.2023 2:41 p.m
Collective bargaining in the public sector has failed. Now mediators have to go. The employee side commissioned Hans-Henning Lühr, an experienced negotiator.
When a participant picks up a plate of biscuits during collective bargaining, he should expect Hans-Henning Lühr to watch him closely. The 72-year-old from Bremen has written the book “Management by Biscuits” (“Management by Biscuits”), in which he summarizes his findings about biscuits in service meetings.
On 64 pages, Lühr divides the biscuit eaters into different categories: the sharp finger, the shovel excavator, the temporary storeman. The idea for the book is unique and obvious at the same time. Because Lühr, whom everyone just calls Henning, has been through countless meetings – and there were countless plates of pastries on the table.
Public service compared to “flea circus”.
Lühr has spent his entire working life in administration. Most recently, he was State Councilor in the Bremen finance department for 17 years. Working to the rule has never been his thing. In addition to his book about biscuits, he has written six cookbooks, including the “International Kale Cookbook”. But he also wrote works on digitization and innovation in administration.
Lühr studied law, business administration and history as a secondary education and is also a graduate in administration. He once compared training for public service to a flea circus: “Fleas can jump two or three meters high. But if you put a glass plate on top and the fleas keep jumping against it, then at some point they only get 15 centimeters high.” That’s exactly what he always criticized about the administration. “We need people who are willing to make a mistake.”
The sluggishness and lack of pragmatism in administration sometimes worried him, he says. Sometimes he jokingly said to colleagues: “If that’s supposed to be the solution, I want my problem back.”
Will to pragmatic solutions
The will to find a pragmatic solution also helped him in collective bargaining. He was involved in almost 100 deals and is considered a tough negotiator – an important prerequisite for talking to unions about money in clammy Bremen. Nevertheless, companions praise him for his ability to bring seemingly irreconcilable positions together.
The Bremen financial politician Jens Eckhoff from the CDU once said about the SPD member Lühr: “Henning Lühr is able to forge contacts, to bring people together. And he is able to make compromises.”
No interview before wage agreement
These are good qualities for someone who is now tasked with negotiating an agreement between unions and employers after they have so far failed to agree on a new collective agreement. And the ability to compromise is probably also the reason why the unions appointed someone to mediate, who has always represented the employers’ side up to now.
Lühr does not want to give an interview before there is a collective bargaining agreement. He doesn’t want to push himself to the fore. However, he lets it be known that in view of the hardened positions, an unconventional solution is necessary. It takes a creative approach. What exactly that looks like is still unclear.
He is called when the going gets tough
Lühr retired in 2020, he is never bored. Among other things, he teaches at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences on the subject of eGovernment. It’s about the use of IT or about making administration faster. In addition, he is still called when the going gets tough.
For example, when there were allegations of racism against the Bremen housing company Brebau in 2021, the management was released. The board of directors needed someone they considered reliable and trustworthy to act as interim manager. It took over: Henning Lühr.
He is looking forward to the task of finding a compromise in the wage dispute, says Lühr. He is only skeptical about his biscuit research. Recently, more and more fruit has been served at meetings.
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