Four million people work in the metal and electronics industry – and in the upcoming bargaining round, it is more important to IG Metall to secure their jobs than to significantly increase wages again. Union chairman Jörg Hofmann said on Friday in Frankfurt am Main that this time he would make “no numbered demand to increase wages”. Instead, he offers employers a “moratorium on fair change”. Most recently, the union had waived a numbered claim during the financial crisis in 2010. Last time, two years ago, this was still six percent.
Hofmann, however, tried to present his council in a reproachful tone – as is customary at IG Metall. Because of the recession and transition to electromobility, the automotive industry in particular is facing a change, the extent of which is currently unknown. Hofmann dressed this in the remark that half of the companies “have no or insufficient strategy to cope with the transformation”. The problem pressure in the factories is great. “Decisions have to be made as to whether and how the future can be shaped with the workforce.” IG Metall envisages a moratorium as follows: Employers should declare themselves ready “not to take any unilateral measures to reduce staff, to relocate products with a future perspective and to close locations”. The union, in turn, is striving for “future collective agreements”, company by company. This should regulate concrete “investment and product perspectives for locations and employees”, further training and the exclusion of operational layoffs.
With this line, the union is fundamentally changing its collective bargaining policy. In the past few years, she had been concerned above all with helping employees to make significantly more money, in part combined with cuts in working hours. Because it is well organized, especially in large companies, it was able to largely achieve this goal with the help of strikes. However, the result was persistent bitterness in the employer’s camp, combined with the discussion in many companies as to whether one should really remain bound by collective agreements. This bitterness and the recession – which IG Metall only calls “dent” or “deterioration” – have now apparently triggered the change of course for the union. By offering company-by-company collective agreements, it also responds to the long-standing criticism of employers that the industry-wide collective agreement does not match their situation in many companies.
In addition, the union even offers to deal with the “future collective agreements” before the end of the peace obligation. This expires on April 28th. One of the unspoken rules of metal wage rounds so far has been to at least put employers on warning strikes. Usually, only a degree that has been earned in the union is considered a good degree; warning strikes are also always useful when it comes to retaining existing members and recruiting new ones.
IG Metall boss Hofmann, however, provided his offer with an ultimatum. He asked employers to explain by February 3, “if they want to go this route”. That day is the next union board meeting; For these, it was previously planned to adopt the “Recommendation”. Before a collective bargaining round, the board always recommends a demand, which is then discussed at the grassroots level, and the official demand follows a few weeks later. If there is no notification from the employer by February 3, “IG Metall will make its request for the collective bargaining round in the usual way,” said Hofmann. A first reaction from the employers’ association Gesamtmetall is expected on Friday afternoon.
However, the “moratorium” at IG Metall is apparently not connected with the idea that this time there should be no wage increases at all. It also does not want to be satisfied with one-off payments, but strives for percentage wage increases “that strengthen the purchasing power of employees”. Translated, this means that wage increases should be above the inflation rate. This is currently 1.5 percent.