Thousands of German car plants workers to strike over pay, working hours


FRANKFURT: Some of the biggest names in Germany’s auto industry – BMW, Daimler, Audi and Porsche – were contending with mass strikes on Friday in a dispute over pay and working hours.

At BMW in Munich around 7,000 employees went on strike, said Horst Lischka of IG Metall, Germany’s biggest union, which is leading the 24-hour walkouts in the metal and electronics industry.

“The whole parent plant is at a standstill,” he added.

Over the course of Friday’s strikes, 300,000 workers are expected to lay down their tools. Around 200,000 did the same on the two previous days.

IG Metall is demanding a 6 per cent pay rise for its members, around double what employers have offered. The union is also demanding a provision that would let some workers, for example, parents of small children or those taking care of sick relatives reduce their hours to 28 a week for two years.

Several hundred strikers were gathered at the entrance to the BMW facility in the Bavarian capital.

The Munich-based carmaker’s largest plant is around 100 kilometres south-west of Dingolfing, where 13,700 employees took part in the industrial action, union member Robert Grashei reported.

As a result, “1,600 cars cannot be built today,” he said, referring to the plant’s daily production rate.

Around 3,600 workers failed to show up for the night shift at three locations in and around Germany’s manufacturing hub of Stuttgart, according to the union.

“In the Daimler factory in Sindelfingen [south-west of Stuttgart], all entry gates are occupied by pickets,” said Rebekka Henschel of IG Metall.

The Sindelfingen plant was one of the three facilities affected, alongside another Daimler location and a Porsche factory.

Two Audi workshops in the southern state of Bavaria had been closed since 6 am (0500 GMT), a union spokesman said, but he was unable to say how many employees were striking there.