Workers stage warning strikes in Germany


Over 30,000 manufacturing workers warned employers with strikes across Germany after the negotiations between IG Metall and the employers' association, Gesamtmetall, came to a deadlock at the end of April.

GERMANY: Warning strikes started on May 2, 2012 when workers in the manufacturing sector downed tools till midday at over 100 companies across the country. IG Metall is asking for a 6.5 per cent wage increase for all its members this year and rejected as "a provocation" an offer of a three per cent hike over 14 months for 700,000 workers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia made in April. The employers also refused to assure full work guarantees for apprentices once their training tenures are over and more job rights for contract and agency workers.

Warning strikes in German metalworking, engineering and electronic sectors will broaden with the break-down last week of the third round of bargaining between IG Metall and employers' associations in several states.

The union demands are based on an increase in productivity development, as well as projected inflation in 2012 and 2013. Guaranteed opportunity for apprentices and contract workers is also based on the fact that Germany currently experiences a shortage of skilled workers.

The manufacturing sector has all the grounds to get a good deal. In March another big sector union ver.di, organizing public workers, reached an agreement for 6.3 per cent increase over the next two years for its two million members. These negotiations were also accompanied by warning strikes, paralyzing the country's transport and services.

Last weekend's warning strikes began on April 28 in the eastern city of Zwickau in Saxony state, where hundreds of young metalworkers conducted a motorcycle parade. Other demonstrations over the weekend occurred in Bavaria, Berlin, NorthRhine-Westphalia, and Nordenham in northern Germany, where workers from several plants held a protest and mass breakfast early on Sunday morning.

More details are on ICEM website