IG Metall demands six percent wage hike

A branch of Germany’s biggest industrial union, IG Metall, demanded on Friday a six percent pay rise, the opening salvo in what is expected to be long and drawn-out wage negotiations.

IG Metall demands six percent wage hike
Photo: DPA

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


German steelworkers agree 6.5 percent pay hike after strike

Tens of thousands of steel workers in western Germany will get a 6.5-percent pay hike this year - the biggest jump in three decades - in a settlement that could set the tone for industry as inflation soars.

German steelworkers agree 6.5 percent pay hike after strike

The agreed increase would come into effect “from August 1st”, the IG Metall union in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia said in a statement Wednesday.

The 68,000 steelworkers in the industrial region would also receive a one-off payment of 500 euros for the months of June and July, the union said.

The outcome of the negotiations was “the biggest increase in wages in the steel industry in percentage terms in 30 years,” said IG Metall boss, Joerg Hofmann.

Germany’s largest union, IG Metall launched a strike action at steelworks in the west in May after management failed to meet its demands for an 8.2 percent pay increase.

On Thursday at the peak of the movement, around 16,000 workers across 50 firms downed tools, the union said.

READ ALSO: Should foreign workers join a German union?

“Rising inflation” and the “good economic situation” of the steel industry were the basis for IG Metall’s demands.

Consumer prices rose at a 7.9-percent rate in Germany in May, a record for the country since reunification in 1990 driven by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

The smaller number of steelworkers in the east of Germany, who are also seeking an 8.2 percent pay boost, have yet to reach their own agreement.

Negotiations are currently taking place in a number of sectors. In the textile industry, 12,000 workers in the east of Germany sealed a 5.6 percent pay increase at the beginning of May.

Meanwhile, negotiations covering the auto industry, and mechanical and electrical engineering will begin in November.

Despite the agreed rise the onus was still on government to relieve the pressure on workers form rising prices “in the coming months”, IG Metall boss Hofmann said.

Significant wage demands have prompted concerns of a wage-price spiral, where rising pay sustains higher inflation.

The European Central Bank last week said it would raise its interest rates for the first time in over a decade this July as it seeks to stamp out price rises.