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Would you translate this as 'general works council' or 'workers council', or something else? The article I'm looking at refers to 'Gesamtbetriebsratsvorsitzende' (presumably the chairman) and later the 'Betriebsrat'...

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Have a look at Wikipedia what "works council" is. - I guess the term "general" for "Gesamt" is acceptable and also the suggestion by supports that. – Em1 Jun 11 '12 at 12:22
Actually, to answer your question: Yes I would do so as suggests. – Em1 Jun 11 '12 at 12:24
To clear up any confusion you could add an asterisk which explains what a Gesamtbetriebsrat is in contrast to a Betriebsrat. – 0x6d64 Jun 11 '12 at 13:30
Both answers seem plausible - thanks. Going with tohuwawohu's because of the reference. – neetso Jun 11 '12 at 18:50
up vote 7 down vote accepted

IATE, a european inter-institutional terminology database (“Inter-Active Terminology for Europe"), offers

Gesamtbetriebsrat: central works council

Betriebsrat (besides works council): works committee, employee committees

But i'm sure that "joint works council" as proposed by Takkat is a good match ,too!

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This indeed is a very German expression not only that it is composed of long nouns but also as it describes a very special worker's organisation in German companies. Here is my suggestion (from reading translations of various annual financial reports of larger German companies)

Betriebsrat: works council
Gesamtbetriebsrat: joint works council
Gesamtbetriebsratsvorsitzender: chairman of the joint works council

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Das Wort ist m.E. nicht mehr deutsch als Brot oder Kastensystem. Es gibt sich Mühe, aber letztlich scheitert es an der digitalen Natur der Frage, die kein mehr oder weniger zulässt. – user unknown Jun 12 '12 at 1:37

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