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MANUFACTURING

IG Metall wage deal averts massive strike

The German metal and electronics industries averted a potentially crippling strike after agreeing to a new wage deal with trade union IG Metall on Wednesday.

IG Metall wage deal averts massive strike
Photo: DPA

Workers in the key auto industry and other industrial sectors will receive 4.2 percent more money in two phases starting in February.

The breakthrough came after all-night talks in Sindelfingen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg between union officials and employers, who had balked at a hefty wage hike amid a time of economic uncertainty.

The negotiations affect more than 800,000 workers in the state – but the agreement will also serve as an example to other states in Germany with some 3.6 million people working nationwide in the metal and electronics industries.

“I can live with the outcome fair enough, but it’s not an outcome that puts me into a state of euphoria,” said IG Metall chairman Berthold Huber. “But we couldn’t have gotten a significantly better result with a labour dispute.”

Thousands of workers across Germany have staged warning strikes in recent weeks, walking off their jobs in demand of higher wages. The country’s largest industrial union pressured employers to raise wages by eight percent – the most it has asked for in 16 years.

IG Metall argued that after several years of meagre wage agreements, workers were due a bigger increase to their pay packets this year. However, after the union staked out its aggressive wage demands, the world economy quickly began to unravel this autumn.

CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

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Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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