Shorter hours for Germans?
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.”