FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The head of Germany’s largest industrial workers’ union says strikes could escalate if a new labor agreement is not reached by noon Saturday, as the union renews its push for an optional 28-hour week and a 6 percent raise.
Joerg Hoffmann said Friday that the IG Metall union was talking again with employers in the southern industrial region of Baden-Wuerttemburg, where any deal would be expected to set the example for 3.9 million workers across the country. The state is home to major companies like automakers Daimler and Porsche.
Hofmann said that if no deal is reached workers could start 24-hour strikes at targeted companies. So far, job actions have been limited to warning strikes of a few hours.
Employers have resisted a union demand to let workers choose a 28-hour week for up to two years with the right to return to their former hours after that, and the 6-percent pay increase over one year. The demand for a shorter work week also includes extra pay to partly even out lost income for those who reduce their working hours to care for small children or a family member. Employers have balked at the idea of the extra pay to compensate for shorter hours, saying people who work less should get paid less.