German union to rule on all out strike
Officials in some of Germany's largest factories have until the following Tuesday to respond to IG Metall's demand for an 8 percent pay raise.
Frankfurt -- On the fifth day of strikes in Germany's most important factories, the IG Metall trade union said it would rule next Tuesday on whether to escalate the wage battle into an all out strike.
A total of 162,000 workers had stopped work on Tuesday, IG Metall said at day's end, but offered no Wednesday tally.
An Opel car plant in Frankfurt, which is owned by General Motors was, stood idle for hours Wednesday as 6,000 workers rallied outside the gates to support IG Metall's demand for an 8 percent pay rise.
The union has rejected an offer of 2.1 percent more pay for 3.6 million industry workers.
The union aims to raise the pressure gradually by holding strikes systematically. A strike in all plants simultaneously has not yet been carried out.
The timing of the union's next move is constrained by German labour law. Metal-products and electrical-goods employers will have till Tuesday to persuade the union to accept a pay offer.
Berthold Huber, the union leader, said that the union leadership would meet immediately after the scheduled meeting with employers on Tuesday so as to decide whether or not to launch an all out, open-ended strike.
"Either there'll be a deal or there'll be a labour struggle," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"I am not dead set on a strike. We just want a fair and sustainable settlement," he said, rejecting the employers' offer as less than the rate of inflation.
But addressing 6,000 union members outside a Volkswagen owned Audi plant at Neckarsulm, north of Stuttgart, he said, "We are all ready to strike."
He did not say when a strike might begin, but told the crowd that they were in a position to legally hold an all out strike in just two or three days.