Topic of working hours precedes start of metal wage negotiations

topic of working hours precedes start of metal wage negotiations

Dispute over new working time rules marks start of collective bargaining for metal and electrical industry in germany. For the first round on wednesday, both IG metall and the employers presented a catalog of demands.

The union is asking for six percent more money, which is clearly too much for the employers, but not the main point of contention. The IG metall’s goal of negotiating the possibility for employees to reduce their working hours to up to 28 hours per week – including financial subsidies for certain groups – is causing much greater opposition.

The union’s demand is "exactly in time and exactly in line with the demands of employees, economically feasible and affordable," said the head of IG metall in baden-wurttemberg, roman zitzelsberger, at the start of negotiations this afternoon in boblingen. Sudwestmetall is the second-largest collective bargaining district in the metal and electrical industry, which employs around 3.9 million people nationwide.

According to the union’s ideas, they should be able to temporarily reduce their working hours to up to 28 hours per week in the future. Certain groups should receive financial compensation from their employers, for example if they work shifts, raise children or care for relatives. The model should be open to everyone, the union stresses, including those who earn little and could not finance a reduction in their working hours on their own. The people who today fulfill virtually every flexibility requirement of the employers needed this possibility of reduction, said zitzelsberger.

Work-life balance is by no means an issue for the metal and electrical industry alone. Across all industries, a good quarter of all employees complain that they very often, or at least often, have too little time to juggle everything, according to the current DGB index "gute arbeit 2017" (good work 2017), which was published on wednesday. 50 percent of respondents said they had no influence on the organization of their working time.

Among other things, employers want to make it possible for companies to agree on longer working hours with each employee without a quota restriction. "We are concerned with preserving jobs," emphasized the head of the sudwestmetall employers’ association, stefan wolf. The change in the industry brings with it major challenges. "In such a situation the demand of the IG metall is not suitable at all." Employees should be properly involved – but not in the way the union envisions.

Negotiations were also held for the first time in northern germany and berlin-brandenburg on wednesday. In hamburg, a demonstration march through the city center kicked off with around 1,000 metalworkers taking part. The largest metal collective bargaining district in north rhine-westphalia and also bavaria and the central region will not follow suit until thursday. Warning strikes possible for the first time in the new year after the end of the peace period.

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