STUTTGART/HAMBURG May 7 Almost 100,000 metal
and electrical workers went on strike across Germany on Tuesday
as they sought to put pressure on their employers to increase a
pay offer, engineering union IG Metall said.
The union is calling for wage hikes of up to 5.5 percent for
some 3.7 million workers from May. It has so far rejected an
offer from employers to increase wages by 2.3 percent from July
following two months without a raise.
IG Metall and employers are due to start a third round of
negotiations in Baden-Wuerttemberg on Tuesday evening.
Any agreement reached in the state home to major carmakers
such as Daimler and Porsche would set the
tone for wage hikes in the engineering sector nationwide.
Negotiations are due to restart in the southeastern state of
Bavaria, where BMW has its headquarters, on Wednesday.
Negotiations take place at a regional level before a deal
made in one region is deemed a pilot agreement and generally
adopted by the other regions.
IG Metall head Berthold Huber said: "We only have just under
10 days left to reach an outcome at the negotiating table."
The union wants to vote on an unlimited strike if no
agreement is reached by the Whitsun holiday, which takes place
on May 19-20.
An agreement is not expected this week. Further strikes are
planned for Wednesday in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and North
German unions are pushing for inflation-beating wage hikes
this year, confident politicians courting votes for a federal
election due in September will back their demands.
According to preliminary figures, annual inflation was
running at 1.2 percent in April.
(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach in Stuttgart, Andreas Rinke in
Berlin and Jan C. Schwartz in Hamburg; Writing by Michelle
Martin; Editing by Alison Williams)