Thousands of German industrial workers to stage strikes next week

FRANKFURT: Tens of thousands of workers in the German metals and engineering industries will stage walkouts at companies across the country from next week as part of a campaign for higher pay, powerful union IG Metall said.

The country’s biggest union is demanding a 6 percent wage rise this year for about 3.9 million workers in the sector.

“We will build pressure with our first wave of warning strikes so the employers finally show some movement in negotiations,” Juergen Wechsler, head of IG Metall in Bavaria, said in a statement on Friday.

Employers have dismissed IG Metall’s pay claim as excessive and so far offered only a 2 percent increase as well as a 200 euro ($241) one-off payment in the first quarter.

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The union, which also wants a shorter working week, is entitled to stage walkouts after a non-strike period ended on Sunday, and many workers usually respond to its calls for action.

IG Metall fired the opening salvo this week when it called for strikes at companies including sports car maker Porsche.

More are set to follow ahead of a next round of pay negotiations.

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Talks have been set for Jan. 11 for workers in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to Volkswagen’s Porsche, Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler and automotive suppliers including Bosch.

In Bavaria, where major companies such as premium carmaker BMW and engineering group Siemens are based, negotiations will resume on Jan. 15. The populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, home to companies such as Thyssenkrupp, is to follow on Jan. 18.

“Should there still be no progress then, we will add more warning strikes and decide whether to go for 24-hour strikes,” Knut Giesler, head of IG Metall in North Rhine-Westphalia, said.

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