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German industry workers striking

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s largest union IG Metall on Friday called on workers in the metal and electronics industry to strike as pay talks stalled amid high inflation.

“Warning strikes” in the vast sector, numbering some 3.8 million employees, began yesterday.

Workers in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous region and its industrial heartland, were among the latest to announce strike action over the weekend.

Management and unions have for weeks been engaged in talks over a new pay deal but failed to come to an agreement before the end of an obligatory negotiation period.

IG Metall has demanded an eight-per-cent increase for workers in the key sector, which includes around 26,000 businesses in the auto, electronics and manufacturing industries.

Employers have countered with an offer of a EUR3,000 (USD2,980) bonus, valid for the next 30 months.

The bonus could “help” but would be quickly used up as prices for energy and food have soared, said IG Metall chief for North Rhine-Westphalia Knut Giesler.

Employees needed a “quick and durable” to match runaway inflation, he said. The annual pace of consumer price rises rose again in October to 10.4 per cent, figures published by the federal statistics agency Destatis showed.

The head of the employers’ federation Gesamtmetall Stefan Wolf told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily industry had made a “good offer” despite “very uncertain times” for business.

Employees of apt Extrusions GmbH stand in front of the company gate during a warning strike organised by IG Metall, in Monheim, Germany. PHOTO: AP