German Workers Readying for ‘Warning’ Strikes

IG Metall looking for 6% raise, special work schedules.

by on Jan.08, 2018

German workers are reading for a series of warning strikes this week.

More than 700,000 workers are taking part in “warning” strikes at employers all across Germany this week as the German Metalworkers union, IG Metall, pushes its demand for a hefty pay increase and a change in working hours.

Warning strikes are generally short in duration – one day is the normal length – and are used as part of the bargaining process. The walkouts, which began with a brief strike against Porsche in Stuttgart, are expected to hit every major German automaker: Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and BMW as well key suppliers.

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IG Metall is seeking not only a 6% pay increase but also demanding the right for workers to temporarily switch to a 28-hour week to care for children or elderly relatives. Employers have argued such a drastic change in working hours would be illegal and have threatened to go to court to stop the industrial action.

The strike comes in the middle of a long-running political stalemate in Germany’s federal government in Berlin. Angela Merkel was re-elected German Chancellor last September but has been unable to form a working government because her party, the right-leaning Christian Democrats, hold only a minority of seats in the Bundestag, the German parliament.

(Tesla caves to German workers demands. Click Here for the story.)

Negotiations to form a majority government with the Green party stalled and Merkel has now turned to the left-leaning Social Democrats in a effort to form a new coalition. The Social Democrats, so far, have declined to join the coalition because they fear it undermines their identity.

The minimal demand from the Social Democrats, which have traditionally depended on IG Metall for money and votes, could be more labor friendly policies.

If the IG Metall and employers can’t agree on the terms of the negotiation by late January, the stage could be set for longer, more damaging walkouts this coming spring.

(Click Here for details about the UAW’s plans to keep its seat on the GM board of directors.)

“Warning strikes” are a common nature of the annual collective bargaining process, there has been no nationwide, open-ended strike in Germany since 2003.

IG Metall expects up to 700,000 to participate in the ritual, running for at least a week from Monday.

(Is the ground collapsing under the UAW? For more, Click Here.)

In keeping with the German practices of settling regional contracts, the strikes this week will stretch from Germany’s “rust belt” in western North Rhine-Westphalia state to Brandenburg, Saxony and Berlin in the former communist east and the hyper-modern car factories of southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg.

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One Response to “German Workers Readying for ‘Warning’ Strikes”

  1. Jack says:

    Wait till the UAW hears about the 28 hour work week.