Shorter hours for Ger­mans?

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ge­orgina Prod­han and Hol­ger Hansen Frank­furt/Ber­lin

THE TRADE union pow­er­house that won the 35-hour work week for Ger­mans more than 20 years ago is mo­bil­is­ing for a new cam­paign to re­duce work­ing hours at the an­nual wage ne­go­ti­a­tions that are about to kick off.

IG Me­tall – Ger­many’s big­gest union with 2.3 mil­lion work­ers, mainly in the car and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries – says shorter hours will help shift work­ers and those who need to care for chil­dren or el­derly rel­a­tives, with im­pli­ca­tions for how Ger­man so­ci­ety evolves in the 21st cen­tury.

If the union is suc­cess­ful, econ­o­mists count­ing on strong wage rises will be watch­ing to see if there are de­fla­tion­ary ef­fects as do­mes­tic con­sump­tion over­takes ex­ports as the driver of the euro zone’s big­gest economy. The union be­gins in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions at lo­cal level on Thurs­day, just as cam­paign­ing in Ger­many’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion en­ters its fi­nal phase, with is­sues of work and fam­ily high on the agenda.

IG Me­tall will re­lease its na­tional list of de­mands at the end of next month, while ne­go­ti­a­tions with em­ploy­ers are set to start in Novem­ber.

The union is in its strong­est bar­gain­ing po­si­tion for years.

“We need more hours to be worked.”

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