Tuesday, February 6, 2018

German Automotive Industry Coping With Widespread Strikes

By: Matt Posky
Last Friday, IG Metall concluded its third day of striking against Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Porsche, Audi, VW, and BMW.
However, the 72-hours of downtime may only be the appetizer in the German union’s strike-buffet. While both IG Metall and the manufacturers have expressed a willingness to resume talks on Monday, the union remains on the cusp of a vote that could extend striking indefinitely. Here’s why they are so pissed: 
The group has requested an 8 percent pay rise over 27 months for 3.9 million workers in the metal and engineering sectors. It’s also asking to reduce weekly hours from 35 to 28 so employees can care for children or ailing relatives, and to be able to return to full-time after two years.
According to Reuters, automakers have counter offered with a 6.8 percent wage increase but have refused to comply with the demand for shorter hours. They said, without the flexibility to increase workers’ hours when necessary, the deal is a nonstarter. Manufacturers also didn’t believe it was fair to compensate workers who were cutting their hours. Several employers are also challenging the strikes in court and seeking damages.
Roughly half a million workers took part in the German strikes by the end of last week. IG Metall said production was impacted at 280 companies — including dozens of smaller suppliers of items used in the production of cars, aircraft, and machinery. But it was the automotive sectorthat took the hardest hit.
“Now it is up to the employers to understand the signal we are sending and make a significant improvement to their offer. If the employers are willing to do that, talks can resume on Monday,” IG Metall chief Joerg Hofmann said in a statement.

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