German metalworking sector hit as 110,000 stage warning strikes

29th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Around 110,000 people took part in warning strikes organised by the powerful German union IG Metall on Friday, hitting the automobile sector in particular, as way of turning up heat in wage negotiations for around 3.4 million metal sector workers across the country.

A truce period during which unions are not allowed to stage any industrial action ended at midnight and IG Metall said in a statement that by 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) "nearly 110,000 people" had taken part in temporary walkouts and stoppages all around Germany.

The regions most affected included Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to Germany's carmakers, where more than 37,000 workers downed tools.

In the western regional state of North Rhine-Westphalia, some 17,000 employees stopped work. And 14,200 took part in walkouts in the the northwest of the country, IG Metall said.

Among the sites hit were a factory of automaker Daimler in Bremen and plants belonging to Mercedes and ArcelorMittal in Hamburg in the north, a Ford site in Cologne and an Audi factory in Ingolstadt in the south of the country.

Plants belonging to car parts maker Continental, truck manufacturer MAN and French group Alstom would also be hit during the course of Friday, an IG Metall spokesman said.

A wage agreement between the union and the employers' federation Gesamtmetall expired in March.

Since then, both sides have been negotiating to reach a new deal for a sector that covers around 3.4 million employees in a wide range of engineering industries.

IG Metall is demanding pay increases of five percent in view of the comfortable profit situation in many companies in the sector.

It has rejected Gesamtmetall's offer of a pay rise of 2.1 percent over a two-year period.

Wage negotiations in the metalworking industry act as a benchmark for most other sectors.

IG Metall regularly stages so-called warning strikes to flex its muscles, but has not called an all-out strike since 2002.

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© 2016 AFP

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