Germans seek labor deal by early next month as car workers strike

Published 12/01/2018 in Business, Economy & Finance

Germans seek labor deal by early next month as car workers strike
FILE PHOTO: Audi cars are parked in front of the company’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Lukas Barth

HAMBURG (Reuters) – Workers at carmakers Audi (NSUG.DE) and BMW (BMWG.DE) staged further strikes on Friday but German labor leaders and employers are aiming for a deal on wages and working hours by early February, representatives of both sides told Reuters.

Some 160,000 workers had already joined industrial action this week to support IG Metall’s wage claims and the union has threatened to call for 24-hour walkouts if talks fail to make progress.

Spurred on by the fastest economic growth in six years and record low unemployment, IG Metall is demanding a 6 percent rise for 3.9 million metals and engineering workers.

It has also launched its first major campaign for shorter working hours in more than three decades. It is demanding that workers gain the right to cut their weekly hours to 28 from 35 to care for children or elderly or sick relatives and then return to full-time employment after two years.

Analysts at Barclays said they expected an agreement on a wage increase of around 3.2 percent, based on an analysis of past labor deals by IG Metall. Typically, they said, a deal is achieved after five rounds of negotiations.

German inflation hit its highest level in five years in 2017 when prices rose an average 1.7 percent over the year.

Talks in the southern German state of Bavaria, home to industrial companies including engineering firm Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and truckmaker MAN (VOWG_p.DE), are due to enter a third round on Monday.

Lower Saxony will follow on Tuesday and North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s industrial heartland, on Thursday.

($1 = 0.8365 euros)

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