US News car manufacturer: IG Metall warns of warning strikes at VW

07:50  24 february  2021
07:50  24 february  2021 Source:   handelsblatt.com

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After the third round of negotiations on a new company tariff, the union expects a warning strike. VW, however, insists on “cost discipline” in view of the crisis.

Angesichts der Coronakrise und hoher Investitionen mahnt der Autobauer die Gewerkschaft zu „Kostendisziplin“. © dpa In view of the corona crisis and high investments, the car manufacturer urges the union to "cost discipline".

After the third round of negotiations on the new company tariff for the more than 120,000 West German Volkswagen employees , IG Metall considers warning strikes at Europe's largest car manufacturer to be increasingly likely. "Since VW is unable or unwilling to come even a millimeter towards us, the colleagues are now quite angry," said the district leader of the union in Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, Thorsten Gröger, on Tuesday evening of the German Press Agency.

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Previously, the discussions with management had ended without a specific tariff offer. This means that "the probability that we will have warning strikes in March has increased," said Gröger. The workers will now be mobilized accordingly, he announced. So far, no date has been agreed for a fourth round. IG Metall is demanding four percent more money, more options for converting it into days off and further training guarantees.

VW negotiator Arne Meiswinkel confirmed that the special effects of the corona crisis must still be taken into account. If you take this into account, this creates “the basis for an offer”. He emphasized: "Volkswagen is interested in a viable, fair and future-proof deal." However, this requires cost discipline in view of the high level of investment. "In the next few years, it will be important for us to achieve a top position in the software and digitization sector," explained Meiswinkel. This then also secures locations and jobs.

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From the union's point of view, these positions are well known. Works council chief Bernd Osterloh had accused the company of delaying tactics even before the meeting. "The colleagues can no longer hear the same talk about the supposedly difficult economic situation," said a letter to the members. Now he added: "If the company side doesn't end this game of hide and seek soon, we will have to take care of it."

IG Metall feels strengthened because the area tariff for the metal and electrical industry is currently being negotiated in Lower Saxony, the home of VW. Here the employers have now presented the key points of an offer. According to this, employees could receive a one-off payment not yet quantified in 2022 and a wage increase from the second half of 2022. But Gröger considers a zero round in 2021 to be unacceptable. The peace obligation ends on March 1st. IG Metall is planning a nationwide day of action on Monday to increase the pressure on employers.

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On the subject of training, Volkswagen stated that the results of a working group had been discussed here. Gröger also said that the situation and future of the apprentices were “dealt with intensively”.

Actually there should have been a deal as early as spring 2020, but the collective bargaining partners excluded important questions in the "emergency contract" at the time. For the past year, VW reported an operating profit of around ten billion euros despite all the coronavirus consequences.

VW traditionally negotiates an in-house tariff for employees in the six West German plants in Wolfsburg, Braunschweig, Salzgitter, Hanover, Emden and Kassel, as well as for the financial subsidiary Financial Services, which in recent years has come closer and closer to the industry level.

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