Building workers in two Northern German states are on strike because employers associations there have refused to accept a pay deal put forward by an independent mediator. The strikes – in Lower Saxony and Schleswig Holstein – are the first in the German construction industry since 2002.
Employers in the rest of German have signed up to the settlement which would give the workers a 3.5% rise from this month, but it cannot go into effect into they all agree to it.
One union leader said the walk-out is indefinite: “It goes on until the employers sign the pay agreement. I can’t give you a precise end time, like next Wednesday at 6.00 PM. The employers have to sign. There is no given date for the end of the strike action.”
The Germany’s building industry started to recover just last year. It had spent much of the previous decade in a recession which held back the country’s economic expansion. Based on that upturn the unions has asked for a 5.5% pay rise at the beginning of the wage negotiations which went on for months.
The proposed settlement was put forward by arbitrator Wolfgang Clement, a former German economy and labour minister.
The union held a ballot of its members in the two states in which it said that 88% voted for strike action. It said that more than 100 building sites have been closed down.