German metalworkers stage warning strikes
German metalworkers began several days of warning strikes on Wednesday as unions upped pressure for a six-percent wage hike that has been rejected by employers as excessive.
Around 1,300 workers took part in a three-hour stoppage at mills operated by steelmaker Salzgitter in central Germany and held a demonstration, a spokesman for trade union IG Metall said.
The union, one of Germany's most powerful, is pressing for the wage hike for its 85,000 members in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen, as well as more rights for temporary workers and better pay for trainees.
Part of the reason that German exporters have performed better than European rivals in recent years is that workers have received only moderate wage increases, allowing firms to undercut competitors on price.
Now that Europe's biggest economy is showing strong signs of recovery after suffering last year its worst recession in the postwar era, however, unions are pressing for larger pay increases.
© 2010 AFP