As part of a campaign for higher pay, thousands of workers in German metal and engineering industries will stage walkouts all across the country, spurred by the fastest economic growth in over four years. This will include Audi and BMW. The most powerful union in the country is demanding a 6% wage increase for 4 million workers in the sector “We will build pressure with our first wave of warning strikes so the employers finally show some movement in negotiations,” said Juergen Wechsler, head of IG Metall, on Friday.
Besides fighting for higher pay for the workers in their sector, the campaign is embarking on the first major campaign for shorter working hours in over three decades. They are demanding that workers are allowed the right to reduce their hours from 35 to 28 to care for their families, children, or elderly relatives.
So far, employers have offered a 2% wage increase plus a one-off 200 Euro payment in the first quarter of the strike. That’s $239 U.S for each person. Companies have rejected those demands for shorter hours, however. They require increased temporary hours to prevent loss of income and output.
Labor bosses and industrial employees took a step towards a deal in regional talks in southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg on Thursday. They have agreed to appoint experts to examine the issue of working hours. Over 100,000 workers have already taken part in industrial action this week in support of IG Metall’s wage claims. The union has threatened to call for 24-hour walkout if those talks and appointments fail to make any progress towards better pay and hours for the employees.
Labor talks in Baden-Wuerttemberg will resume on January 24. In Bavaria, talks continue on Monday and in north Rhine-Westphalia, talks will resume Thursday.