Union: Allianz forced protest cancellation

Germany’s biggest trade union has accused insurance giant Allianz of making a multi-million euro payment to help laid-off workers conditional on the union calling off a protest rally.

Union: Allianz forced protest cancellation
Photo: DPA

IG Metall, which represents workers at the collapsed Manroland printing press producer, said Allianz told union officials it would only release €17 million meant to finance lay-offs if the union cancelled a planned protest against Allianz and another former owner, MAN, the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) said on Thursday.

Although IG Metall said agreed to the deal – and called off the protest planned for Friday in Munich, it complained about it in a flyer seen by the FTD. A spokesman for IG Metall confirmed the flyer was accurate.

But Allianz denied the allegations, telling the paper its contribution to the €24 million pot financed by it and other Manroland owner MAN, was unconditional.

The collapse of the 6,500-employee Manroland has been a messy and uncertain one, with reports that mass layoffs could happen at the beginning of February when the company’s restructuring process is set to expire.

Insolvency administrator Werner Schneider told the FTD that several outside firms had expressed interest in helping finance the company’s recovery.

The Local/mdm

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Volkswagen workers in Germany secure 4.3 percent pay bump

Workers at the world's largest carmaker Volkswagen said on Wednesday they had secured a big pay bump, in line with the rest of Germany's powerful metalworking sector.

Volkswagen workers in Germany secure 4.3 percent pay bump
VW employees at a plant in Emden, Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

“After a long night of talks we've achieved a result employees at Volkswagen can be very happy with,” chief negotiator for union IG Metall Thorsten Groeger said in a statement.

VW's 120,000 employees in Germany will see a 4.3-percent pay boost from May this year and tripled contributions to their company pension fund.

But the car-making giant did not match other employers' offer of the option to temporarily switch to a 28-hour week.

SEE ALSO: Time over money? Germany's largest union defends 28-hour week

Instead, some groups of employees, such as those with young children or caring for relatives, can choose to take up to six additional paid days off per year instead of an annual bonus.

“This decision is effectively in line with the contract renegotiation across the metalworking industry. That was an important goal for us to secure Volkswagen's competitiveness” in the labour market, VW human resources chief Karlheinz Blessing said in a separate statement.

During the wider pay talks between IG Metall and other employers' groups earlier this year, thousands of workers downed tools in 24-hour “warning strikes” across Germany.

Fearing labour shortages in an already tight job market, business leaders held out long and fiercely against the demand for a working week of 28 hours.

The employee representatives — negotiating on behalf of some 3.9 million metalworkers nationwide — eventually secured most of their demands including higher pay and the temporary shorter week.