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Germany: chemical workers determined in negotiations

2 March, 2015Sector-wide collective bargaining rounds covering 550,000 chemical workers in Germany are continuing as the latest negotiations on 24 February in Kassel failed to reach a conclusion.

New talks are scheduled on 12 and 13 March in Neuss, North Rhine-Westphalia. IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, IG BCE, which represents workers in the chemical, mining and energy sectors, is calling for an increase in wages of 4.8 per cent with a contract period of twelve months. In addition, the union wants to develop the collective bargaining agreement over "Demography and Working Life" fund.

The fund, which is built by employers’ regular contributions, is an essential part of the ongoing negotiations. It is used to finance the instruments aimed at addressing and shaping demographic change at workforce through an assessment of age structure and qualification, and providing training for employees in different age categories.

Nine attempts at negotiation at the regional level were also unsuccessful before the federal-level talks in Kassel. Although the chemical economy in Germany is stable and robust, chemical employers still see just a low level margin for wage increases and have yet to make a concrete offer.

IG BCE is now planning rallies at more than 300 sites over the coming weeks as the chemical workers dispute the employers’ position.

"Very lavish dividends for shareholders and bonuses for managers, and a few cents for the workers – it’s dream for employers,” said Peter Hausmann, Board Member and Chief Negotiator for IG BCE. “We will now increase the pressure - at the gates, on the streets and in the squares. IG BCE will fight for its members’ rights.”

“The negotiations in the German chemical industry are followed by all our affiliates across the globe as it is the largest collective bargaining agreement in the sector worldwide,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary at IndustriALL. “Our support is with our German colleagues and we are looking forward to great success”.