Union Threatens with Warning Strikes | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 28.01.2004
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Union Threatens with Warning Strikes

In the dispute over new tariff negotiations, Germany’s largest labor union, IG Metall, has called for warning strikes starting Thursday if employers don’t agree to a wage increase for workers in the engineering and manufacturing sector. In the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, representatives from both sides worked against the clock to hammer out a deal, but fell short of an agreement. IG Metall has called for a 4 percent increase in wages over a course of 12 months. The employers’ association has rejected the demands and has offered instead a two-phased wage increase of 1.2 percent over 27 months. In addition, the industry has called for the introduction of contracts allowing for a flexible work "corridor" of between 35 and 40 hours without additional pay for overtime. IG Metall Vice President Berthold Huber has categorically rejected the employers’ demands as "provocation." If no agreement is reached, he said, IG Metall will begin organizing warning strikes in Baden-Württemberg, where a good portion of the union’s members work for the country’s biggest carmakers. The first strike is slated to take place at midnight in the Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen. After that strikes will follow in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Rhineland Palatinate. The warning strikes are the first since IG Metall’s failed attempt to introduce a 35-hour work week in eastern Germany last summer.