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German Metalworkers Plan Warning Strikes

Union wants to put pressure on employers over a 6% salary rise dispute.

The IG Metall union said on Sept. 20 that German metalworkers will stage warning strikes this week to agitate for sharp wage hikes after a stalemate in negotiations with employers.

Between Sept. 22 and Sept. 24, several production sites will be targeted including at Salzgitter, Germany's second biggest steelmaker located in the western town of the same name, and smaller competitors in the Ruhr Valley.

"We are going to put the pressure on employers," IG Metall said, after two rounds of talks between management and the union failed to break a deadlock.

IG Metall, one of the most powerful unions in Europe's biggest economy, is calling for a 6% salary rise for 85,000 workers in the west of the country amid a robust economic recovery.

The union is also demanding equal treatment for temporary workers and permanent staff and better pay for trainees after years of wage moderation.

Employers say a 6% wage increase is unreasonable amid doubts about how long the upturn will last. They have not announced a counter-offer.

Salary negotiations in the metalworking industry in Germany tend to serve as a bellwether for other sectors.

Output in the German economy in the second three months of the year was 2.2% higher than in the same period the year before and the central bank has predicted annual growth of three percent. However, economists believe the engine is set to lose some steam in the second half of the year, which will likely complicate the pay talks.

In addition, inflation in Germany remains tame, with recent figures showing prices in August rose 1% from the same month a year ago.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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