German metalworkers stage first strikes amid pay talks

29th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Tens of thousands of German manufacturing workers, mostly in the car industry, went on strike on Thursday, weeks after the start of tough pay talks in the key metalworking sector.

Three hundred companies across the country were hit by so-called warning strikes, with a total 70,000 workers downing tools, the IG Metall union said, adding that further action was planned later in the day and on Friday.

Companies in North Rhine-Westphalia state and Baden-Wuerttemberg in the south were particularly affected by the warning strikes, which usually last just a few hours and can be a precursor to longer action.

Workers at plants of automakers Mercedes, Daimler and Ford took part in the action, while around 2,000 employees demonstrated outside an Airbus factory in the northern port city of Hamburg.

IG Metall is demanding pay rises of 5.5 percent for the nearly four million workers in sectors including electronics, the auto industry, household electrical goods and semi-conductors.

Its pay deals are used as a benchmark for much of German industry.

Employers have offered an increase of 2.2 percent.

"The strong participation in the strikes shows what the workers think of the proposal" by the employers, Joerg Hofmann, vice-president of IG Metall, said.

© 2015 AFP

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