BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in:  Business
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Market Data 
Economy 
Companies 
E-Commerce 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
German strike threat looms
IG Metall strikers on a march
Berlin-Brandenburg members have come out strongly in favour of strikes
Germany is facing its first major strike for seven years after members of the country's biggest trade union, IG Metall, voted for industrial action over pay.

The action of any walkout could well affect the future of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who faces a general election this September.

And the first signs of a fragile economy recovery could also be snuffed out.

IG Metall said more than 80% of its members in the north-eastern Berlin-Brandenburg region had voted in favour of work stoppages.

In a second ballot, over 90% of members in the Baden-Wuerttemberg region also backed strike action.

Prolonged stoppages at manufacturing powerhouses such as DaimlerChrysler and Siemens would trim Germany's economic growth, still struggling to stay in positive territory after last year's recession.

Pay dispute

The IG Metall ballots follow the collapse of pay talks on 19 April, when employers rejected the union's revised demand for a 4% wage increase.

A vote in favour of industrial action from IG Metall members clears the way for union leaders to order work stoppages.

IG Metall's chairman Klaus Zwickel has said that union leaders plan to launch targeted work stoppages designed to hit major manufacturers while limiting the impact on smaller firms.

IG Metall, with a total membership of about 2.6 million, exerts a powerful influence on annual pay negotiations in Germany's key manufacturing and engineering industries.

Bosses alarmed

The union was demanding a 6.5% wage increase at the start of the latest round of pay talks.

Employers' associations have refused to go any higher than 3.3%.

German economists, politicians and business leaders have condemned the union's stance on pay as irresponsible, arguing that employers cannot afford hefty wage increases until the economy picks up.

Last month, the European Central Bank warned that upwards pressure on wages in the eurozone was "a cause for concern".

Germany is Europe's largest economy, accounting for more than a third of the eurozone's economic activity.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dr Jurgen Pfister, Commerzbank
"German employees are very angry about the low wage rises in the past and the high increases in consumer prices."
The BBC's Dominic Di Natale
"This comes at a crucial time, just as the nation is coming out of a slowdown"
See also:

17 Jan 02 | Business
Germany on brink of recession
28 Dec 01 | Business
No respite for German economy
05 Dec 01 | Business
Germany's slowdown continues
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories