January 24, 2018 / 10:36 PM / a year ago

German industrial wage talks stall in fourth round

BOEBLINGEN, Germany, Jan 24 (Reuters) - German industrial employers and powerful labour union IG Metall failed to reach an agreement on wages in regional wage talks on Wednesday, and both sides said they would consider how to proceed going forward.

“It became apparent that there is still an extremely wide divide between us on some positions,” Stefan Wolf, head of regional employers’ association Suedwestmetall, said after eight hours of talks.

The head of IG Metall in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Roman Zitzelsberger, criticized employers for backpedaling on progress made in earlier negotiations.

Wednesday’s talks were the fourth round of negotiations in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler and sports car brand Porsche.

Any deal in Baden-Wuerttemberg would typically be applied in other states as well.

If the two sides remain at loggerheads, IG Metall’s leadership may decide at a meeting on Friday to call for 24-hour walkouts or ballot the union’s members on strike action.

Emboldened by the fastest economic growth in six years and record low unemployment, IG Metall is demanding 6 percent more pay for 3.9 million metals and engineering workers across Germany.

A big sticking point in the talks is a union demand that workers should have the right to reduce their weekly hours to 28 from 35 to care for children or elderly/sick relatives, and return to full-time employment after two years.

Employers have so far offered a pay rise of 2 percent plus a one-off 200-euro ($245) payment but have rejected demands for a shorter work week unless employers are allowed to increase hours temporarily as well. ($1 = 0.8161 euro) (Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; writing by Maria Sheahan and Tom Sims; editing by G Crosse)

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