German union threatens warning strikes in steel industry

FILE PHOTO: A member of German Metal Workers' Union IG Metall hold an alarm clock during a protest in front of a Siemens factory in Karlsruhe, Germany, January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German union IG Metall said on Friday it would recommend that workers in the iron and steel industry in the northwest of the country hold warning strikes next week, after it walked out of a third round of wage talks saying managers offered nothing new.

Knut Giesler, the union chief for North Rhine-Westphalia state, broke off the latest round of negotiations after just 15 minutes.

Warning strikes tend to be brief, lasting a few hours or a day. The union said it would propose a series of strikes to its wage commission on Saturday but gave no details of which companies would be targeted next week or when.

The steel employers’ association said the behaviour of Germany’s biggest union in the negotiations was disappointing and “not constructive.”

IG Metall said in December it was seeking a 6 percent wage hike for the 72,000 steel industry employees in the northwest region, possibly setting a benchmark for millions of workers in Europe’s largest economy.

The union, which represents 3.9 million people in the metal working and electrical industries, also wants workers to get a 1,800-euro (£1,578) holiday bonus.

Andreas Goss, head of the employers’ group, said the two sides remained at odds over the bonus and over the terms for taking time off in lieu of the bonus.

The next round of talks is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Reporting by Birgit Mitwollen; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Edmund Blair