New collective agreement in the west German steel industry
In October 1997, the collective bargaining parties in the west German steel industry agreed a 2.6% increase of wages and salaries.
On 20 October 1997, the IG Metall metalworkers trade union and the German Steel Employers' Association (Arbeitgeberverband Stahl) signed a new collective agreement for the 90,000 employees of the west German steel industry in Northrhine-Westphalia (NRW), Lower-Saxony and Bremen. The new agreement, which has a relatively long duration of 17 months, provides for:
- a 2.6% increase in wages and salaries from 1 March 1998;
- a flat-rate payment of DEM 170 per month from October 1997 to February 1998; and
- an increase of DEM 30 in vocational training pay.
Both collective bargaining parties have interpreted the results as a classic bargaining compromise. Originally, IG Metall demanded a 5% wage increases while the employers' association offered only 2%. In November 1997, the two parties will start new negotiations on partial retirement (Altersteilzeit).
Besides the bargaining results, the recent negotiation round in the steel industry had another particular meaning for IG Metall. For the first time, trade unionists from foreign countries had the opportunity to sit as observers an the bargaining table. According to the head of IG Metall's NRW district, Harald Schartau, one trade union official from Belgium and one from the Netherlands, who in their home countries are responsible for the steel companies Hoogovens (Netherlands) and the Sidmar (Belgium), participated in the recent negotiation round.
In June 1997 the NRW IG Metall district took an initiative to establish a close cooperation network with the Dutch and Belgian metalworkers' unions, including regular exchange of information on collective bargaining and mutual participation of collective bargaining experts in the actual bargaining process (DE9707223N).