Metalworkers and engineers in several factories across Europe's powerhouse have started a 24-hour walkout in a protracted dispute over wages and working hours. Trade unionists say employers deserve a better deal.
German industrial workers kicked off a 24-hour warning strike Wednesday night, voicing their anger over what they perceived as employers' unwillingness to make more concessions with regard to wages and working hours.
The industrial action was initiated by the country's largest and most powerful trade union, IG Metall. Strikes are expected to continue through Friday, with the organizers out to fire a last warning shot before seeking extended industrial action that could be crippling for companies relying on supply chains in the metals and engineering sectors.
Referring to Germany's fastest economic growth in six years and record-low unemployment, union leaders keep demanding an 8-percent pay hike over 27 months for a total of 3.9 million industrial workers across the country.
IG Metall is also asking for workers to be given the right to reduce their weekly hours to 28 from 35 in cases where employees need to look after children or elderly and sick relatives.
It's the union's first major push for shorter hours since workers staged seven weeks of strikes back in 1984 to help secure a reduction of the working week to 35 hours from 40 hours previously.
In the current labor dispute, employers have so far offered a 6.8-percent increase in wages, but rejected the demand for shorter hours unless they can also increase working hours when necessary.
The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) warned the current warning strikes were likely to cause revenues to drop by between €62 million ($77.1 billion) and €125 million, depending on how many firms would eventually be affected until Friday.
Employers' organizations have said they're considering filing a lawsuit against the current strike action as they deem it to be unjustified and illegal.
The union and the employers have left the door open to resuming talks, but both sides have demanded more willingness to make concessions.
hg/sgb (Reuters, dpa)