Industrial workers in Germany, represented by the country’s largest trade union IG Metall, have won their battle for the introduction of a 28-hour working week (from 35 hours) as well as for a wage rise of 4.3 per cent.
The agreement, made between IG Metall and the Südwestmetall employers’ federation, covers 900,000 workers in the metals and electrical industries.
It seems likely, however, to be implemented for the whole country.
IG Metall’s chairman, Jörg Hofmann, has said ‘the wage settlement is a milestone on the path to a modern, self-determined world of work.’
Stefan Wolf, Südwestmetall’s negotiator, on the other hand is far less enthusiastic, claiming the agreement is a ‘burden, which will be hard to bear for many firms.’
Despite having won workers the right to lower the amount of hours they work as week as well as to receive greater wages, IG Metall negotiators were unable to successfully make the case for workers to receive the same, or similar, pay when working fewer hours in a week.
This agreement comes after strikes last month saw around 425,000 workers in one week demanding changes to their work lives.
At the time, IG Metall’s treasurer Juergen Kerner claimed ‘we have plenty of staying power. Our strike coffers are well filled.’ They seem to have lasted just long enough.