IG Metall rejects inflation compensation through higher wages

Energy and food prices have skyrocketed since the start of the Ukraine war and the government’s insane economic sanctions. The constant short-time work has already led to severe financial losses. Many workers are faced with the question of how they will be able to pay for fuel, rent, heating, loans and the livelihood of their families in the future.

Protest against job cuts at the Daimler plant in Berlin-Marienfelde in November 2020 (WSWS-Photo)

IG Metall has now declared that the current and upcoming collective bargaining negotiations are not intended to compensate for inflation. “Exorbitant inflation rates cannot be compensated for by collective bargaining,” said Roman Zitzelsberger, district manager of IG Metall in Baden-Württemberg and chief negotiator for the union for pilot deals.

When asked “Why not?”, Zitzelsberger replies that the high inflation rates are the result of political decisions and must therefore be corrected by “politics”.

So far, the unions have always said that wage setting is the sole responsibility of the collective bargaining partners and that the government is not allowed to make any specifications. Inflation plus productivity growth served as a rule of thumb for calculating wage demands.

Now Zitzelsberger is turning the tables and claims that the massive loss of income caused by price increases is not a benchmark for wage demands and wage agreements. In other words: IG Metall is entering the collective bargaining round with the declared goal of lowering real wages.

Zitzelsberger thinks he can throw a spanner in the works’ eyes by claiming that the government is responsible for adjusting for inflation. But everyone knows that the question of price increases has been an important argument in all collective bargaining so far. And now that the price increases are threatening our existence, that should no longer be the case!

In truth, IG Metall is supporting the government and corporations in the biggest pay robbery in decades. A few weeks ago, Zitzelsberger signed a joint statement with the employers’ association Südwestmetall on behalf of IG Metall, which welcomes the “closed and determined” response of Germany, Europe and its allies to Russia’s military aggression.

“We support the measures that have been taken,” emphasized both associations. Zitzelsberger and employer president Porth left no doubt that the dramatic increase in military spending was also meant. They expressly welcomed the sanctions against Russia, despite their dire impact on the population in Russia and here. “These measures will require sacrifices from all of us,” the statement said.

Now IG Metall is forcing the workers to make these “sacrifices” by refusing inflation compensation and agreeing real wage reductions in collective agreements. As the government’s henchman, it is thus forcing the working class to finance the arms deliveries to Ukraine, the NATO war against Russia and the gigantic military build-up of the German armed forces.