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Over thousands of German workers walk off jobs

Published on November 04, 2008

Munich -- Tens of thousands of workers in Germany's engineering sector are expected to walk off their jobs Monday to stress its demands for an 8 percent pay raise.

The strikes, which began Saturday, are to continue through Friday after the IG Metall union rejected an offer of 2.1 percent increased income in 2009 and 0.8 percent rise of annual salaries for the months of Nov. and Dec.

The union called it a "provocation" that the 3.6 million employees in the industry have not been offered raises to compensate for inflation.

Metal workers across Germany are to take part in the temporary strikes Monday. "We are expecting tens of thousands of participants," a union spokeswoman said in Frankfurt.

Hundreds of companies are to be affected, especially in the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia and Saarland, where 30,000 workers were called to strike.

Thousands more are also expected to stop work in Baden-Wuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Negotiators from both sides are to meet again Nov. 11 for a fourth round of talks. If there is no breakthrough by mid-Nov., the union will declare the talks a failure and have its members vote on an indefinite strike.

The strikes come at a time when carmakers such as Daimler AG, Opel and BMW announced cost saving temporary closures of factories after a drop in orders triggered by the global credit crisis.

Early Monday in Bavaria, about 50 workers at BSH Bosch and Siemens Household Appliances GmbH and 100 at the auto parts maker Valeo SA in Wemding near Ingolstadt walked off their jobs temporarily at midnight, union officials said.

In Nagoldthe, in the south western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, workers at the auto parts maker Helag-Electonic GmbH in had not reported for the early shift. About 200 workers on the early and normal shifts were called to strike.

Employees at the saw maker Stihl Inc were also to cease work in Waiblingen near Stuttgart in the same state.

In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper president of the engineering employer’s group Gesamtmetall Martin Kannegiesser warned that the strikes would hurt not only the companies involved but also their workers.