FRANKFURT, Sept 14 (Reuters) - German trade union IG Metall fired its opening shot in the 2018 wage round on Thursday, with its influential North Rhine-Westphalia regional branch recommending a 6 percent wage rise demand and a right to shorter working hours.
That compares with a national demand of 5 percent in the last round in early 2016, which resulted in a settlement of a 2.8 percent increase on July, 1 2016 and a further 2.0 percent on April, 1 2017.
Working time is set to form a central plank of this year’s wage round. IG Metall is campaigning for a right to reduce weekly hours to 28 from 35 — with a right to return to full-time work after two years — for shift workers and those caring for children or other relatives.
Germany’s biggest trade union, whose workers are mainly in the car and manufacturing industries, wants employers to contribute to making up the shortfall in pay for the cut in hours.
“Inflation and productivity are rising, capacity utilisation by the companies is on the highest level, and order backlog is excellent,” IG Metall North Rhine Westphalia said.
Its recommendation will feed into a national wage demand that will be announced on Oct. 26. Negotiations will then begin in November.
IG Metall’s wage settlement will affect as many as 3.9 million workers, including members at plants not directly covered by the pact, and will have a strong influence on other agreements among workers throughout Germany. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Keith Weir)