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(en) Poland, Workers' Initiative - Germany: shorter working week in industry [machine translation]

Date Fri, 6 Apr 2018 08:00:58 +0300

From next year, more than 2.3 million employees and employees of German industry will be able to shorten their weekly working time to 28 hours. This is the effect of the agreement that in February this year concluded by the IG Metall trade union and the employers' association of the metal and electrical industry Gesamtmetall. The signing of the agreement was preceded by mass strike action. The leftist daily Junge Welt reported that as part of a series of 24-hour warning strikes at the turn of January and February, a total of about half a million employees and employees from 280 factories were on strike. ---- On January 31, strikes were organized in 80 companies, and work refused 68,000. people - mainly in MAN factories producing trucks. On February 1, employees and workers of Volkswagen plants in Cologne (employing 13,000 people) carried out a strike. In the following days, IG Metall conducted strike actions in the Bosha, BMW, Audi, Daimler, Siemens and Airbus factories. Mobilization mainly covered the automotive industry, but strikes were also organized in plants producing electronic equipment and other sectors of the metallurgical industry.

The effect of the strikes is an agreement under which wages will increase by 4.3% already in April this year (IG Metall initially demanded a 6% increase). However, more important are the arrangements for working time - from 2019, each employee will be able to shorten their weekly working time to 28 hours for a pre-determined period from half a year to two years. After this time, he will be able to return to the standard 35-hour working week or remain in the 28-hour system for the next period. Even 4 million employees and employees employed in establishments covered by the agreement will be able to use these solutions. However, employers have the right to extend the working week to 40 hours for those employees and workers who "want to work longer".

Although the agreement is often presented as a huge success of the German trade unions, the employers seem to be satisfied with it. President of Gesamtmetall, Dr. Rainer Dulger, commented on them as follows: "A collective agreement allows employees to shorten their working time for a limited period and then return to full-time. Consequently, much more employees than before will be able to work longer than 35 hours, in some cases up to 50 percent In this way, not only does the work volume lost due to part-time work, but even the overall production capacity can be extended if necessary.This model will allow us exactly the flexibility up and down we wanted. "Skeptical about agreement also the Junge Welt newspaper: "It's obvious that contrary to the declarations of the head of IG Metall Jörg Hofmann, this collective agreement is not a "breakthrough in working time." - according to Junge Welt, the agreement guarantees employers the possibility of flexible management of work time and matching it to the economic situation. In this way, global working hours in the German automotive industry and the electrical industry can remain at a similar level, but will be differently "spread" into individual categories of employees and employees.

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