Employees working in the metal and electrical industries for organisations such as Airbus, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche in Germany have undertaken three days of strike action in a dispute over pay and working hours.
Approximately 125,000 employees across 100 organisations, who are members of the IG Metall trade union, started industrial action on Wednesday 31 January 2018.
The ongoing dispute is centred around IG Metall seeking an 8% pay increase over 27 months for just under four million metal and engineering employees in Germany. The trade union is also requesting its members have the right to reduce their working hours from 35 hours a week to 28 hours a week, to enable staff to care for children, elderly or unwell relatives. The intention is that employees who take up this option would be able to return to full-time work after two years.
Employers involved in the dispute have offered a 6.8% pay increase, but have declined the request for shorter working hours unless they also have the flexibility to increase employees’ hours, depending on demand.
The strike action precede IG Metall balloting its members on whether to conduct extended industrial action. Talks between the union and employers are expected to resume today (Monday 5 February 2018).
Christiane Benner, second chairwoman at IG Metall, said: “The impressive workforce participation in the full-day warning strikes shows that in this excellent economic situation, […] employers need to improve their offer; in terms of money, time reduction and working time, nursery education, care or shift work, and only then is it possible to return to the negotiating table.
“Employers have so far failed with their legal diversionary tactics, and labour courts have already dismissed the petition for a ban on our full-day warning strikes. […] Collective bargaining is just a matter of negotiation and not in court.”
A spokesperson at Gesamtmetall, the Federation of German Employers’ Associations in the Metal and Electrical Engineering Industries, which is managing the negotiations at a national level on behalf of the employers involved, added: “The 24-hour strikes were uncalled for. We were making good progress when the union presented us a ‘take it or leave it’ proposal that was so clearly designed to be unacceptable that it was obvious the union wanted to try out it’s new strike tactic.
“The union uses those strikes as [a] membership drive, and that is a dangerous development. But we’re negotiating again now, and hope to find an agreement that benefits all parties.”