Sector News

Germany's chemical workers union calls for salary increase of 6%

April 12, 2018
Chemical Value Chain

The trade union IG BCE (Hannover), which represents employees in the mining, chemical, and energy industries, has called for its members to receive a salary increase of 6%, a “significant” increase in vacation money, and a future-oriented development of working conditions. The total package of demands has been recommended by the union’s board ahead of the forthcoming tariff negotiations for the chemical industry.

“The union’s demands are appropriate, given the excellent economic position of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry,” according to Ralf Sikorski, IG BCE’s chief negotiator. Production, sales, and profit all rose significantly in the past year, and further growth is expected this year. According to a poll of works council members, eight out of ten reported on a “good to very good” economic situation of their respective companies.

“Capacity utilization is at a record level,” says Sikorski. “The employees deserve that their performance is recognized, and not just praised verbally, but reward with [hard cash].”

The union has started the negotiations for the 580,000 workers in the sector under the motto “Because you are worth it!” The negotiations are due to begin on 20 June.

Specific details of the package include a 6% rise in salary, to be valid for the next 12 months; an increase in vacation money from the current level of €20.45 ($25.30)/vacation day to €40/vacation day for full-time employees and for apprentices from the current payment of €449.94 to €900. Employees in lower salary levels and apprentices will benefit by more than the average from these demands, according to the union.

The IG BCE also wants further improvements in working conditions and –systems, citing constantly rising workloads, rapid technological developments, and the strong desire of employees for more control over working times. Employees should have more say in when and how that are employed, also taking the respective phases in a worker’s life into account. “The digital transformation is one of the major challenges for industry and tariff negotiations,” says Sikorski. “Those who wish to convince people of the need for change must make it clear that it is also an opportunity to create better working conditions. New technology can lead to increases in efficiency, but it can also create a burden on the workers,” he says.

The chemical industry employers association, BAVC (Wiesbaden) warned the union to “keep its feet on the ground, in spite of all the optimism” BAVC ruled out the union demand for 6% more pay and 1% more vacation pay on top.

“If we wish as an industry to continue to grow, we need sensible tariff politics,” says Klaus-Peter Stiller, BAVC managing director. “We can honor a one-time boom with a one-time payment. This would put us in a better position when the path becomes rocky again,” he says. Stiller pointed out that there is no need for salaries in the industry to catch up. A full-time employee earns €59,000/year, under the tariff conditions.

By Michael Ravenscroft

Source: Chemical Week

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