The new head of IG Metall has warned of the fatal consequences of the latest austerity measures for German industry. Trade unionist Christiane Benner reports on the basis of a works council survey that there was already a bad mood in many companies in their sectors because there was no investment and parts of production were being relocated to the east.
The traffic light coalition's budget compromise is now bringing further burdens. “The abrupt end of the environmental bonus for electric cars is a fatal signal that caught us off guard in the short term. This once again sows doubts even among the well-intentioned,” said Benner, referring to the desired drive change in the auto industry. In energy-intensive companies, the risk of migration has increased again, said the union leader. "The electricity price package was already too tight, and if billions of euros in network fees are added to this, the situation will worsen further."
Benner said she lacks a clear industrial policy strategy on how the ecological and digital restructuring in this country should be designed. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) described it, but the federal government was unable to present a positive concept. Rigidly sticking to the debt limit under pressure from an unconstructive conservative opposition is the wrong approach. "We have to address the debt brake in order to overcome the massive challenges. Politicians should have taken a different look at the need to finance the ecological transition. I lack the foresight to consider the follow-up costs."
In addition to the cuts, there were also positive decisions in favor of the industry, Benner admitted. She mentioned the continued subsidies for batteries, semiconductors and hydrogen. Therefore, there is not a sense of disaster in all companies. However, it makes them “very nervous” if a majority of works councils continue to be unable to identify a consistent future strategy in their companies. The workforce here is ready for more co-determination, especially in strategic issues.
Benner announced that IG Metall will focus heavily on the companies in the coming year and sound out the mood among employees very early before the metal and electrical collective bargaining round. She expects strong pressure to negotiate higher wages and expand flexible elements for self-determined working hours.
During her young term in office, Benner reported that she had already had good discussions with the employers' association Gesamtmetall. "A strong social partnership is of great value and importance. Together we have to make industrial jobs more attractive in order to address the shortage of skilled workers and workers." This includes attractive working hours, sensible company goals and strategic personnel planning that specifically focuses on further training. In society as a whole, the high part-time quota among women must be reduced and the transition management between school and training improved. Germany could also improve greatly when it comes to integrating refugees into work.