Work: IG Metall: companies in the east on the way to the 35-hour week

In the view of IG Metall, companies in the metal and electrical industry in East Germany are on the right track when it comes to aligning working hours to western levels.

Work: IG Metall: companies in the east on the way to the 35-hour week

In the view of IG Metall, companies in the metal and electrical industry in East Germany are on the right track when it comes to aligning working hours to western levels. About a year after a corresponding framework agreement with the employers, the union has now "enforced the gradual reduction of working hours to 35 hours for almost 80 percent of our members in the associated companies in the metal and electrical industry in Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony". District manager Irene Schulz on Monday. "Now we're aiming for 100 percent."

The latest example is Siemens. According to IG Metall, employees at seven locations of the technology group in Berlin, Chemnitz and Leipzig have been working one hour less since October 1st. "In October 2024, the weekly working time will drop to 36 hours, in October 2026 to 35 hours," it said.

"In the meantime, we have implemented phased plans to reduce working hours to 35 hours for all large locations and all large corporations in the district," Schulz said. In addition to Siemens, the path to harmonization has now also been agreed at car manufacturers such as VW, Porsche or BMW and at Mercedes in Ludwigsfelde.

For decades, unions and employers had been fighting over the 35-hour week in the east for the metal and electrical industry. Both sides only found a solution last summer - in the form of an opening clause for the collective agreements in the districts of Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony. Since then, companies and employee representatives have been able to agree at company level to gradually reduce working hours to 35 hours.

The same or comparable regulations now also exist in the states of Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia. In Thuringia, such a decision was made last June. How far the companies in these countries are, initially remained open.

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