Metal workers to strike

German metalworkers will stage limited strikes this week to agitate for sharp wage hikes after a stalemate in negotiations with employers, the IG Metall trade union said Monday.

Metal workers to strike
Photo: DPA

Between Wednesday and Friday, several production sites will be targeted including at Salzgitter, Germany’s second biggest steelmaker located in the western town of the same name, and smaller competitors in the Ruhr Valley.

“We are going to put the pressure on employers,” IG Metall said in a statement, after two rounds of talks between management and the union failed to break a deadlock.

IG Metall, one of the most powerful unions in Europe’s biggest economy, is calling for a six-percent salary rise for 85,000 workers in the west of the country amid a robust economic recovery.

The union is also demanding equal treatment for temporary workers and permanent staff and better pay for trainees after years of wage moderation. Employers say a six-percent wage increase is unreasonable amid doubts about how long the upturn will last. They have not announced a counter-offer.

Salary negotiations in the metalworking industry in Germany tend to serve as a bellwether for other sectors.

Output in the German economy 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.

In addition, inflation in Germany remains tame, with recent figures showing prices in August rose 1.0 percent from the same month a year ago, well below the European Central Bank target of close to, but below, two percent.


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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.