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Business

Schröder Weighs In on Longer Work Week

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has weighed in on the controversial topic of longer working weeks. "It is more important to make working times more flexible," he said in an interview with the German newsweekly Der Spiegel. "I think it is wrong to conduct a general debate over whether the working week should be 35 or 42 hours long," he said in the story, publiished on Monday. According to Schröder, a blanket change would not suit the needs of every industry, while a more flexible approach would. In responding to the question, Schröder gave his view on an issue that has dominated the German headlines for months. At the end of June, Siemens, Germany's largest electronics company, won an important concession from the powerful IG Metal union: by threatening to relocate jobs to Hungary, the Siemens executives got union members to agree to work an additional five hours per week -- bumping their total number of hours up to 40 -- for no extra pay. The agreement has prompted concern that other German companies would employ similar tough negotiation strategies and spark a trend towards longer hours. There are already indications that executives at some German auto makers are planning to follow suit.