Making the demand for some 85,000 workers in the steel industry in Germany’s northwest, which often serves as a precedent on the national level, the union said it was time workers joined in the fruits of the upswing after years of wage moderation.
“All employees must profit from the upturn. During the crisis, we succeeded in securing jobs and income,” said Oliver Burkhard, a senior union official. “After this successful crisis management, it must be seen whether there is good recovery management from the steel industry employers.”
Unions including IG Metall have traditionally shown wage restraint during tough times – a trade-off to ensure job security that has also kept Germany’s export-driven economy highly competitive.
The new demand is being made for steel workers in the large industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as Lower Saxony and Bremen.
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, has enjoyed a stellar bounce after a crippling recession during the global slump.
Output in the second three months of the year was 2.2 percent higher than in the same period the year before and the central bank has predicted annual growth of three percent.
However, economists believe the engine is set to lose some steam in the second half of the year, which will likely complicate the pay talks.
The current wage agreement ends on August 31 and the first negotiations begin on September 6. But the discussions are not just about a percentage wage rise for permanent steel workers. IG Metall also wants the secure equal treatment of the more than 3,000 casual employees in the industry.
“In the steel industry, there must be no second class of workers. Whoever is brought into the company as a casual employee has to get the same money for the same work,” Burkhard said.