GERMANY: Metalworking unions threaten all-out strike unless pay offer improved
A massive series of metalworker warning strikes is continuing to rock Germany today (4 May) with unions mooting all-out industrial action unless demands for an improved pay offer are met.
The hugely-powerful IG Metall union has been operating the so-called warning strikes that consist of workers downing tools for up to four hours at a time, in a swath of key German industries including automakers, suppliers, electronic companies and engineering operations.
IG Metall is asking for a 6.5% pay increase in the light of an extremely strong German economy - particularly in the auto industry - but employers have so far offered in the region of 3%.
The dispute has seen walk-outs across Germany, with Bavaria stopping work yesterday and strikes rolling across Baden-Wurtenburg, Lower Saxony and North-Rhein Westphalia today.
"The action is to push employers to improve their latest offer, which is an increase of 3% for 14 months [which], for one year is only 2.6%," an IG Metall spokesman told just-auto from Frankfurt.
"It is not enough and the people are concerned and a little bit angry - to date there have been 250,000 employees who have taken part in this kind of warning strike. It will last at least up to the next negotiations which are 8 May in Baden-Wurtenburg."
First talks between unions and employers started on 26 April and although IG Metall says it is willing to have more discussions before 8 May, it notes one of its "major demands" is the pay offer has to be improved.
"It is necessary to give employers a clear signal they have to improve their offer," said the IG Metall spokesman. "IG Metall is prepared - if necessary - to go on full strike - it could be in the early days of June.
"We think this 6.5% is affordable - most of the bigger companies are publishing their figures for the last years and they are very good [but] there is still no signal of compromise."
Key automotive industries involved in the industrial action, according to IG Metall, include Bosch, Getrag, Mercedes-Benz, MAN, Valeo, Faurecia and Volkswagen, among many others.