Last week the German metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, arguably one of the world’s most powerful unions, showed that unions have the power to shape their future workplaces. IG Metall negotiated a precedent-setting collective-bargaining agreement that privileges working conditions over wages. It won its key demand that workers have the right to reduce their working week from 35 to 28 hours for a period of up to two years in order to care for family members.ADVERTISEMENTThe union refused an initial offer of a 6.8-percent wage increase in favor of a reduction in work hours and a more modest increase in wages of 4.3 percent. The new agreement establishes a precedent for unions to bargain for working hours over wages and to take an active role in shaping the conditions needed in the current and future workplace.As the largest industrial union in Germany and the European Union, IG Metall’s agreements traditionally set trends for national bargaining in Germany as well as the rest of the continent.By using traditional negotiations and coordinated 24-hour strikes, the union won contract coverage for 900,000 metal and electrical workers, which will most likely be extended to cover close to 3.9 million workers in the sector. Outside Germany, unions… Read full this story
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