German steel workers are striking for three days after pay talks broke down between the IG Metall union and employers.
Thousands of them walked out on Wednesday in the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s industrial heartland.
They want a six percent increase in wages which the employers have called unreasonable.
The steel workers are also opposed to government plans to raise the retirement age to 67 and they want temporary workers to be paid the same as full time staff.
The union’s chief negotiator Oliver Burkhard said: “We want to ensure the principle of same money for the same work. It’s crazy that people get different salaries for doing the same work. And we demand fair conditions for workers over pensions, because we believe that a retirement age of 67 doesn’t work in the steel industry because people are doing physically hard jobs.”
The unions said the six percent increase – which is way above inflation at one percent – is to compensate for sacrifices made during the economic crisis.
Salary negotiations in Germany’s steel industry are often used by unions in other sectors as a benchmark for their salary demands.