Germany’s chemical labour union presses for 6% wage hike

14 February 2012 17:38  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--German chemical labour union IG BCE on Tuesday called for a 6% wage hike in the 2012 collective bargaining round, but employers warned of economic uncertainties and called on the union to be “realistic” in its demands.

IG BCE’s claim for 2012 compares with the 4.1% increase the 550,000 workers represented by the union achieved under the current 15-month deal from early 2011 and a wage freeze in 2010.

Union leader Michael Vassiliadis said 2011 had been a record year for Germany’s chemical industry, with many producers now operating at “extraordinary” competitiveness.

“We will make sure that employees will participate in the industry’s success,” and not just shareholders, Vassiliadis said.

However, chemical employers group BAVC said the union needed to be “realistic” in the collective bargaining talks, which are due to get underway in April.

“We need to reach a deal that reflects economic realities,” said BAVC general manager Wolfgang Goos.

“Those realities include a weakening in the economy, uncertainties because of the [eurozone] debt crisis and high volatility in chemical markets,” Goos said.

Hans-Carsten Hansen, who will lead the wage talks for BAVC, said that because of Germany’s demographic challenge” fewer young people will join the workforce.

This means that current employees need to agree to retire later, and they need to be more flexible, Hansen said.

“Early retirement is a concept that no longer fits in with the realities of Germany’s chemical industry,” he said.

About 30% of Germany’s chemical industry workers are aged 50 or older, compared with 22% 10 years ago.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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