German union secures 28-hour work week
Germany’s largest labour union IG Metall has struck a landmark deal with employers for higher wages and shorter working hours.
As part of the deal, union workers will receive a 4.3% salary increment over the next 27 months, and will be required to serve a minimum of 28 working hours each week for up to two years – down from 35 hours previously.
This means workers will have to return to the 35-hour work week after two years.
Workers also have the option to choose between one-time payment methods (monthly, annual, or a specific lump sum) or shorter working hours.
Employers are not allowed to block workers from availing of the shorter working hours under any circumstances.
However, in exchange for agreeing to shorter work weeks, employers received the right to have more workers take up 40-hour contracts, which some analysts say is counter-productive for the progress the union has made.
The agreement will initially cover 900,000 metals and electrical workers in the state of Baden-Württemberg, which is home to major industrial companies like Bosch and Daimler. Industry observers believe the new terms will eventually be rolled out across the rest of the country.