Union Strikes Put Brakes On German Car Production
By Max Bernhard
Germany's car industry was hit by a third day of strikes Friday, with thousands of workers walking off the job in an ongoing dispute over wages and working hours.
Daimler AG (DAI.XE), BMW AG (BMW.AG) and Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) saw production grind to a halt at some locations when members of the IG Metall union launched 24-hour strikes.
Industrial action began earlier in the week, after talks between the union and employers failed last weekend. IG Metall, which represents 3.9 million manufacturing workers, is seeking a 6% wage increase over 12 months and the right to reduce hours. For workers who cut their hours to care for children or the elderly, the union also wants a subsidy to partially offset lost pay.
Employers have offered 6.8% over 27 months, but object to shorter hours and the subsidy. IG Metall said that, overall, the offer falls short of their demands.
Volkswagen's Audi and Porsche units were affected Friday, with 10,000 employees at Porsche's Zuffenhausen plant participating in strikes that began late Thursday. At Audi's Ingolstadt facility, which produces 2,400 cars a day on average, workers started a 24-hour strike Friday morning, an Audi spokesman said.
They also staged strikes at Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz. IG Metall said 36,000 workers participated in strikes at Daimler's Sindelfingen and Untertuerkheim plants.
Daimler said it aimed to catch up on potential shortfalls as quickly as possible and expected to meet all delivery obligations.
At BMW's Munich plant, around 7,000 workers participated in the strike, bringing production to a standstill, according to the union. Production was also stopped at BMW's Dingolfing plant, where 13,700 workers participated, it said.
Juergen Wechsler, director of IG Metall in Bavaria, said Thursday that IG Metall would "paralyze" all Bavarian car plants at the same time.
"This will be the highlight of the strike measures in Bavaria," he said.
IG Metall said talks could resume Monday if employers showed a willingness to improve their offer. The employers association, Gesamtmetall, couldn't be reached for comment.
"We don't want plants to idle for long," the president of Gesamtmetall, Rainer Dulger, said in an interview with Handelsblatt on Friday. "I hope that we return to good talks as quickly as possible."
Write to Max Bernhard at Max.Bernhard@dowjones.com; @mxbernhard
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 02, 2018 09:36 ET (14:36 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.