German industrial workers win right to flexible hours

From BBC - February 6, 2018

Industrial workers in south-western Germany have won the right to reduced working hours as part of a deal that could benefit millions of employees across the country.

Workers will be able to reduce their weekly hours from 35 to 28 for up to two years to look after their families.

The deal covers almost one million workers in Baden-Wrttemberg state and also gives them a pay rise.

It could be extended to the 3.9 million workers in Germany's industrial sector.

What has been agreed?

A reduced working week to care for children, the elderly or sick relatives was a key demand by IG Metall, the country's biggest trade union representing metal and engineering workers.

But their demand that those workers were still paid the same even if they reduced their hours was rejected in their negotiations with the employers' federation, Sdwestmetall.

In return, the companies will have the possibility to increase to up to 40 hours the week of those willing to work more.

The employees will also be given a 4.3% pay rise from April, against their demand of a 6% increase. The pay deal stretches over 27 months and also sees additional one-off payments.

IG Metall leader Jrg Hofmann said: "The agreement is a milestone on the way to a modern, self-determined world of work."

Meanwhile, Sdwestmetall head Stefan Wolf called the compromise "bearable but painful".

Is this a turning point for German workers?

By Damien McGuinness, BBC News, Berlin

After reunification, while Germany was struggling economically, flexibility was generally demanded of employees rather than companies.

What is the context of the dispute?


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