January 11, 2018 / 4:02 AM / 9 months ago

German union boss confident "decent" pay rise can be agreed on

FRANKFURT, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Germany’s biggest trade union, IG Metall, expects a “decent” pay rise in ongoing talks on wages and flexible hours, its chief Joerg Hofmann said, adding that companies had made enough profits in the past year to give more to workers.

IG Metall’s demands for a wage increase of 6 percent were adequate given dividend payouts rose by 10-15 percent, Hofmann said in remarks released on Thursday, adding that firms had enough leeway to pay up without choking off investments.

“And I do think that we will reach a decent result there,” he said.

IG Metall has threatened to call for all-out strikes across the industrial sector if talks with employers over wages and flexible hours scheduled for Thursday fail to make progress.

A big sticking point is a proposal that workers should receive the right to reduce their weekly hours to 28 from 35 to care for children or elderly or sick relatives, and return to full-time employment after two years.

Employers have so far offered 2 percent plus a one-off 200 euro ($239) payment in the first quarter and have rejected demands for a shorter working week unless hours could be increased temporarily as well.

“Employers have to give up their veto position,” Hofmann said.

He added that he was sceptical about whether much progress would be made in talks scheduled on Thursday in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where Daimler, Bosch and Porsche are based.

In neighbouring Bavaria negotiations resume on Jan. 15 and to the north in North Rhine-Westphalia on Jan. 18. ($1 = 0.8365 euros) (Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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