In the dispute over the 35-hour week in the eastern german metal and electrical industry, IG metall is preparing negotiations with individual large companies.
The thread of communication with the employers’ association gesamtmetall has not been severed, said the first chairman of the union, jorg hofmann, at the union conference of his organization in nuremberg. However, IG metall was systematically preparing to "tackle the issue on a company-by-company basis". The sites of major car manufacturers such as VW, BMW or porsche in the eastern german states are particularly suitable for this purpose.
For more than 20 years, trade unions and employers in the industry have been arguing about the 35-hour week, which has been in force everywhere in the west since 1996. IG metall last failed with a strike for equalization in 2003. Even in the current collective agreement from the beginning of 2018, 38 hours are still stipulated. At the beginning of october, IG metall declared the talks with the eastern german employers to be over. According to the employers’ association for the metalworking industry, just under 500 employees worked in the.000 people in the metal and electrical industry in eastern germany. A year earlier, 80 of them were employed under collective bargaining agreements.000.
Gesamtmetall had criticized the breakdown of the talks because, from the employers’ point of view, a gradual reduction of the working week to 35 hours had been within reach – with simultaneous regulations to compensate for the additional costs and to secure the volume of working time.
In view of the far-reaching upheavals in core industrial sectors such as automotive, mechanical engineering and steel, germany’s largest trade union, with almost 2.3 million members, is facing a number of major challenges. Delegates unanimously adopted a resolution that union work should be driven more from the store floor.
"Our greatest resource is our volunteers," said hofmann. More commitment is needed to tackle the problems at hand. For this, more time must be given to the people. "If we don’t interfere, the decisions will be made against us," explained the head of the union.
In the upcoming round of collective bargaining for the metal and electrical industry, which employs almost four million people, IG metall will not hold back with wage demands despite the weak economy. At the beginning of the year, a resolution will be passed on a demand that fits the times, as in the past, explained hofmann.
For the most vulnerable groups in the core workforce, employers must finance training that leads to sustainable employment, the trade unionist demanded. IG metall also wants to expand the options for working hours introduced in 2018. Above all, part-time employees, assemblers and project workers should be included.
Hofmann criticized employers who were withdrawing from collective bargaining agreements in increasing numbers. The public sector should therefore make the awarding of its contracts conditional on the companies actually being bound by collective agreements, hofmann demanded.
Before the keynote speech, hofmann had addressed some personal words to the delegates at the trade union congress, who had given him a weak re-election result the day before. The 63-year-old said he had already been hit by the "thinking note". But he later added that he had not thought for a moment about resigning. But no one should think that IG metall is getting bogged down in internal debates. "We will show clear edges."