IG Metall demands wage increases, launches “warning strikes”
IG Metall is demanding a 4.5 percent salary increase in the wood and plastic processing industry, as it presses with its collective bargaining negotiations, which started last September.
The union is also asking for an increase in the demographic fund, from EUR 300 to 750 Euro per worker, each year. It said that this would mobilise more money to cover up the workers’ “partial retirement, a part-time employment scheme for German workers approaching the retirement age.
IG Metall said that its demands are just and valid, explaining that the industry’s overall economic standing is good. In fact, it said that many companies are doing better compared to pre-pandemic times, and are expecting an increase in production. The union said that even the industry's sub-sectors that have weakened due to COVID-19, such as office furniture manufacturers, have recovered.
IG Metall pointed out that workers, such as those in the chipboard production, can hardly keep up with their work. Many employees, particularly older workers, are reportedly working beyond their limits, with additional staff hardly to be found. IG Metall said that the increasing demand of work in the industry is not commensurate to the salaries that the workers are currently receiving.
To support its demands and pressure employers to submit to the workers' proposals, IG Metall organised “warning strikes” and other similar concerted actions all over the country.
At the Deutsche Fertighaus Holding (DFH) plant in Simmern (Rhineland-Palatinate), more than 200 workers joined a “warning strike” for two hours, massively affecting the production and logistics of Germany's largest prefabricated house manufacturer.
According to IG Metall, around 24,000 workers nationwide have taken part in its “warning strikes,” with more being planned in the coming weeks. The union said that many territorial collective bargaining negotiations are still ongoing.
IG Metall said that its concerted actions have produced positive results in the workers’ collective bargaining efforts. Currently, two collective bargaining agreements are nearing their conclusion in Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg. It was reported that workers successfully doubled their demographic fund for health and partial retirement. A 4.9 percent wage increase was also won, with workers receiving a 2.7 percent increase in April 2022, and another 2.2 percent in April 2023. Additionally, workers will receive a corona assistance payment of EUR 385 in February 2022.
IG Metall welcomed the initial victories even as it continues its industry-wide collective bargaining negotiations.
"These initial victories were possible due to the trade unionists’ unity as expressed through the warning strikes and other similar actions," says Brigitte Döth, IG Metall Board member responsible for the wood and plastics processing industry.