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Trade unionists: IG Metall wants wage increase of 7 percent

Trade unionists: IG Metall wants wage increase of 7 percent
Trade unionists: IG Metall wants wage increase of 7 percent

Inflation may be slowing down. But the financial burden on employees is high, argues IG Metall. Employers, on the other hand, see no scope for large salary increases.

A tough round of wage negotiations is looming in the metal and electrical industries. The IG Metall board recommends 7 percent more money over a period of twelve months for the approximately 3.9 million employees. The financial burden on employees is high, said IG Metall boss Christiane Benner, justifying the union board’s recommendation. Even if the inflation rate falls, the price base at the checkouts will remain high.

Employers, on the other hand, do not see much financial leeway. “The metal and electrical industry is still in recession. However, the ideas mentioned sound as if we are in an economic boom,” criticized Gesamtmetall President Stefan Wolf.

Benner also spoke of a sensible and responsible recommendation in view of the brighter economic prospects in the coming year. It is also about showing employees the necessary respect for their performance and situation. “But anyone who then calls for a zero round of wage increases before the first negotiation is really heating up these debates,” said Benner. “We found it disrespectful to treat the expectations and situation of employees in this way.”

Employers in the metal and electrical industries argue that the tense economic situation in Germany does not allow for large wage and salary increases. Employers in Baden-Württemberg recently made it clear that they actually only consider a zero wage increase to be appropriate. “We can only understand a demand above zero as pure recruitment of members; anything else would be completely inappropriate in view of the recessionary situation,” the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” recently quoted the negotiator for Südwestmetall, Harald Marquardt, as saying.

“With all due respect for the concerns of our employees, it is now more important than ever to strengthen the location,” said Gesamtmetall President Wolf. “I hope that the IG Metall committees will use the further consultations to come to a more realistic assessment of the situation.” The employers’ association expects a decline in production of more than 3 percent in the metal and electrical industries this year.

Warning strikes possible from 29 October

The recommendation is not yet the final demand. The IG Metall board will decide on this after discussions in the regional collective bargaining committees on July 9. The wage agreements for employees in the core sectors of German industry, which include vehicle construction and mechanical engineering, expire on September 30 of this year. According to IG Metall, the first negotiations will take place by September 16 at the latest, i.e. no later than six weeks before the end of the peace obligation on October 28. Warning strikes would then be possible from October 29.

According to data from the trade union Hans Böckler Foundation, the real wages of collective bargaining employees in Germany as a whole have fallen to 2016 levels due to strong inflation in recent years. There have been drastic losses in real wages, especially in 2021 and 2022. Last year, employees’ purchasing power was largely secured, said Thorsten Schulten, head of the WSI collective bargaining archive at the Hans Böckler Foundation, at the beginning of the year. “However, in order to compensate for the massive real wage losses of the previous two years, strong real wage increases are necessary in the coming collective bargaining rounds.”

In a survey conducted by IG Metall, in which around 318,000 employees took part, a majority of 59 percent said it was particularly important to them to offset their increased costs. Another 15 percent said that increasing purchasing power was particularly important.

Training allowances to increase disproportionately

According to IG Metall, inflation has eaten up the tax-free one-off payments from the last collective agreement in 2022. “The employees deserve a permanent monthly compensation and recognition of their efforts,” said collective bargaining board member Nadine Boguslawski. The economy also needs stronger domestic demand to support it. If people have more money at their disposal, this can boost private consumption in Germany. Training allowances are to be increased disproportionately by 170 euros.

In the collective bargaining agreement, IG Metall wants to improve the wages of the lower income groups with a social component. IG Metall also wants to talk to employers about extending the collective bargaining leave period. Employees with children, care responsibilities or in shift work in the metal and electrical industry can apply for up to eight additional days off instead of the collective bargaining supplement. IG Metall wants to extend this to other employees. “Expanding the existing option to include a democratic and volunteer period or improving the existing regulations would be a valuable contribution by companies to actively support social commitment,” said collective bargaining board member Boguslawski.

Source: Stern

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