Germany’s Merkel assures chem union on workers’ rights

14 October 2009 19:57  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s new coalition government will not curb workers’ rights, Chancellor Angela Merkel told chemical and energy union IG BCE on Wednesday.

Merkel, in a speech at the union's congress in Hanover, was responding to concerns by the union’s new head, Michael Vassiliadis, that her coalition with the pro-business Free Democrats could weaken workers’ rights and make it easier for employers to shed staff.

She said the government would not undermine Germany’s strong rights against dismissals, and it would not touch its co-determination system, called Mitbestimmung, under which workers have representation on companies’ supervisory boards.

As for Vassiliadis’s call for a clear and reliable energy programme to ensure affordable energy supplies for chemical and other industrial producers, Merkel said she believed in a mix of various energies, including renewables, coal and nuclear power.

It would not make sense, for example, to close all nuclear power plants in Bavaria, only to be forced to import energy from the Czech Republic, she added

German industry observers said that talk within the new government to extend the operational life of the country’s nuclear power plants could threaten future investments by Evonik Industries and others in new clean coal power plants.

An earlier government under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder between the Social Democrats and the Greens had moved to phasing out nuclear power by around 2020, but that decision remains controversial.

Merkel took over as chancellor in 2005, initially in a coalition with the Social Democrats. Now, following last month’s federal election, she is committed to a coalition government with the Free Democrats.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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