Giant German Union To Demand 32 Hour Working Week

The German trade union IG Metall (IGM), Europe’s largest trade union, will be demanding an 4 day, 32 working week without loss of pay ahead of the next collective bargaining round for the steel, metalworking and electrical industries due to take place in November this year.

“We want to achieve real relief for workers without having them earn less because of it,” said IGM North Rhine-Westphalia’s Chief Negotiator Knut Giesler ahead of collective bargaining negotiations in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Bremen.

Pattern bargaining in the metalworking, steel and electrical industries commences with negotiations in North Rhine-Westphalia, which knocks onto other German regions establishing a new nationwide agreement that applies to the whole of the German metalworking and electrical industries and is closely watched by Government’s and politicians throughout Europe.

Giesler argued that shorter hours will greatly improve workers’ health and quality of life while at the same time making the industry more attractive to younger workers and combatting expected job losses in in a shift towards the green transition.

Speaking to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper  Giesler outlined to the plan for the introduction of a four-day, 32-hour work week without loss of pay. This would be a reduction from the current 35-hour week.  The change would likely require a phase-in period, said Giesler.

The president of IG Metal Jorg Hofmann added that the union had already implemented the 4-day week as a collectively agreed option for temporarily reducing working hours or as an instrument for safeguarding employment for many employees. This is a next step toward an attractive industrial working world that allows life and work to be combined well.

Profits in the German manufacturing sector are booming in foundries, engineering, autos, electronics, and defence. Profit margins for Mercedes and BMW, and electronics firms Siemens and Bosch were all estimated between 12-15% in 2022, with Volkswagen looking at an 8% increase.

Rheinmetall, ThyssenKrupp, KMW and MBDA all saw increased revenues in the billions as orders soared in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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