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Business

German Steel Sector Heads off Strike Threat

An all-out strike was averted on Wednesday in Germany's key steel industry when employers and unions hammered out a wage agreement that could be used as a yardstick for other sectors of industry. Under the terms of the deal, struck after six hours of last-ditch talks in the city of Dortmund, 85,000 western German steel workers will see their wages increased by 3.5 percent from Sept. 1. And for the period from April to August, they will receive a one-off payment of 500 euros ($645). "We're very satisfied," said trade union IG Metall's chief negotiator Detlef Wetzel. This was "an extraordinarily good result and a fair compromise." Employers were less enthusiastic about the result. "We would have sensibly wanted to reach a different compromise," said the head of the Stahl employers association, Helmut Koch. The president of the Gesamtmetall employers' federation Martin Kannegiesser also said that the pay increase was too high. "Even if the sector is doing well at the moment, a pay rise of 3.5 percent is out of proportion," Kannegiesser said on German radio RBB. Analysts estimate that the wage deal will increase production costs by about one percent.

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