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Working towards a four-day week for steel industry

20 October, 2023An 8.5 per cent wage increase and a reduction in working hours from 35 hours to 32 hours per week with full wage compensation are part of IndustriALL affiliate IG Metall’s, collective bargaining package.  

The reduction in working hours would be a first step towards the four-day week, according to IG Metall. In addition, the collective agreements on part-time work for older workers, the use of employment contracts and job security for the more than 80,000 workers are to be extended.

The demands are the result of discussions among IG Metall, and a survey of more than 11,000 workers. 

According to the survey, 72 per cent of workers said that a pay rise was especially important in the light of continuing high inflation. 75 per cent of workers said that the issue of reduced working time with full compensation was rather important. 65 per cent of the workers view it as an important vehicle for securing jobs and employment. 

The main reasons for a working time reduction to 32 hours per week with wage compensation include: job security in uncertain times will be needed, maintaining employment levels in the steel sector, people will be healthier at retirement age, a better work-life-balance and it’s a way to make the steel industry more attractive as it suffers a shortage of a skilled labour force. 
A four-day week could easily be realised in the white-collar jobs of the steel industry, but not among the blue-collar workers in shift work. It’s for this reason that the steel workers prefer to demand a working time reduction with compensation. A weekly working time reduction can also be implemented in the shift work schedules of the steel industry. The already implemented voluntary models prove this.
Employers have claimed that a working time reduction with full wage increase will cause a decrease in competitiveness, working time reduction is too expensive and that shift models will be disrupted.
Christine Olivier, IndustriALL assistant general secretary says: 

“Reducing working hours with full wage compensation is not merely a target in itself. It represents a fairer distribution of the wealth created by productivity gains in the industry created by the workers.

For far too long, the lion's share of the benefits from our increased efficiency has gone to the top, sidelining those who are at the very heart of this production.

It's time to level the playing field, ensuring that our workers directly benefit from these advancements by offering them improved working conditions and an enhanced quality of life.

The future of steel isn't just measured in figures, but in how we value and support those who shape it every day.”

The Collective Bargaining Commission of the North-West German steel industry took the decision of the demand on 6 September, the East German steel industry followed the day after. The first negotiation will be held in mid-November. 

Photo source: IG Metall