Biggest union in Germany calls for four-day week to prevent mass layoffs
The largest trade union in Germany, IG Metall, has proposed a shorter working week as the solution to prevent mass layoffs in the automotive and industrial sectors.
Shorter working week to prevent layoffs in German car industry
In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, IG Metall chairman Jörg Hoffman proposed introducing a four-day workweek to prevent job losses. “The four-day week would be the answer to structural change in sectors such as the automotive industry,” he said. “With this, jobs in the industry can be kept instead of being written off.”
IG Metall, which represents workers from major car manufacturers like Audi, BMW and Porsche, is the largest industrial union in Europe and seen as a major trendsetter in collective bargaining.
Hoffman argued that it was in companies’ interests to shorten working hours rather than making employees redundant, since it ensured specialists were retained and saved on severance payments. He proposed that employees be granted a compensatory adjustment to wages so that “employees can afford it.”
Germany’s automotive industry under pressure
Germany’s automotive industry - one of the mainstays of the economy that employs around 830.000 people and contributes a massive five percent of the country’s GDP - is currently undergoing major structural changes as it moves towards electric, climate-friendly, autonomous designs.
The coronavirus crisis has only added to that pressure - forcing firms like Daimler, ZF and Bosch to reduce working hours this summer. At the last round of collective bargaining talks in March this year, the partners of the metal and electrical industries agreed to extend their existing collective wage agreement until the end of 2020.
This means that the four-day workweek could come up for debate in the next round of talks, at the turn of the year.