German Metal Workers Strike for Share in Economic Boom | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 08.02.2008
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German Metal Workers Strike for Share in Economic Boom

Some 10,000 German metal workers laid down their tools on Thursday, Feb. 7, in a warning strike intended to put pressure on the industry's leaders. They want a bigger piece of the nation's economic growth.

Steel rolls

More strikes may come before the dispute is resolved

The strike affected over a dozen metal plants, mostly in Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley, the IG Metall trade union said Thursday. Around 1,500 workers went on strike at the ArcelorMittal factory in Bremen alone. ThyssenKrupp in Duisburg was also hit hard, with 1,000 employees halting work.

"We are demanding a fair share of the unprecedented boom," said Oliver Burkhard, IG Metall director in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, referring to the sector's recent economic growth.

Three rounds of negotiations between the union and the employers have failed to bring resolution. Representatives from both sides will continue talks on Feb. 19.

Eight percent more

Steel factory

The north-western Ruhr Valley is the heart of the German steel industry

IG Metall has called for an eight percent wage increase for the 85,000 steel workers in four German states. It has also demanded 100 euros ($146) more per month for apprentices and reduced work schedules for older employees.

The steel industry's employers' association expressed surprised at Thursday's stoppage.

"So far, the talks have been constructive," said association chairman Helmut Koch.

An offer is expected to be presented by the employers this coming Tuesday. The union has said that further strikes could take place before then.

Thursday's strike is one in a slough of recent sit-downs that has affected a variety of sectors in Germany, including transport and public service.

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