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Steel Workers Walk off the Job

More than 10,000 steel workers at 29 sites in northwestern Germany staged short walkouts on Tuesday to step up pressure on employers who are involved in pay negotiations. The strikers are protesting the offer of a 1.8 percent pay rise in an 18-month agreement employers offered last week to the approximately 85,000 steel and metal workers in the northwest, a region which includes Germany's industrial Ruhr heartland. The steelworkers' union, IG Metall, wants a 4.5 percent pay hike and a twelve-month agreement. IG Metall is Germany's largest industrial union and Tuesday's walkouts are the first since new leadership came to the helm after a bitter and damaging internal dispute. A failed strike action in May in eastern Germany over a shorter work week failed and triggered the leadership battle. Germany's main industrial business group has criticized the unions' practice of calling limited work stoppages as economically damaging.