November 22, 2011 / 7:17 AM / 8 years ago

Strike averted in German steel sector with 15-mth deal

BERLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Germany’s IG Metall union reached an agreement with steel companies in northwestern Germany to increase wages by 3.8 percent over a 15-month period, officials from the union and the employers said on Tuesday.

The deal will raise wages for 75,000 workers in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, and will likely serve as a basis for further wage deals in the sector.

“It was really difficult to get this done,” said Oliver Burkhard, the head of the negotiations for the IG Metall union after 12 hours of talks.

“This is an agreement that we can live with,” said Helmut Koch, who led the negotiations for the employers. The deal also includes improved terms for trainees.

Steel workers in the region had demanded increases of 7 percent and had threatened to strike if wage talks failed to reach a deal on Monday.

The union is also in collective bargaining talks for steel-sector workers in the German regional states of Lower Saxony and Bremen at companies including ThyssenKrupp, Salzgitter and ArcelorMittal.

Germany, Europe’s largest steel producer, will likely produce less crude steel this year than expected as the euro zone crisis creeps its way into the real economy, German Steel Federation President Hans Juergen Kerkhoff said earlier this month.

Reporting by Veronica Ek; Editing by Erik Kirschbaum

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