German Employers Calls for Modest Pay Hikes as Steel Workers Walk Out

BDA calls for wage increases that are less than gains in productivity.

The German employer's federation BDA called for wage moderation Wednesday as demands for higher salaries multiplied in the eurozone's biggest economy. "Strikes, strike threats and incomprehensible salary demands serve no purpose," BDA head Dieter Hundt told a press conference. He called for wage increases that were "less than gains in productivity."

"Those who play with exaggerated figures in salary demands naturally earn ovations to begin with but they should know that it hinders the labor market and Germany's economic future," Hundt said. He noted that while economic growth was solid, it was nonetheless starting to slow and was threatened further by effects of the international financial crisis.

A series of German salary renewal negotiations has gotten off to a brisk start this year amid strikes in several sectors. On Feb. 6, steelworkers laid down tools following a call by the IG Metall trade union. Three hundred workers stopped work temporarily at a site belonging to sector leader ThyssenKrupp. Similar actions were expected to follow on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8 by workers employed by the Vallourec and Mannesmann groups.

IG Metall has called for 85,000 workers to receive wage raises of eight percent. Unions have raised the bar this year following several years of moderation during which the economy has posted strong growth while workers' buying power has been undermined by rising inflation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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