June 23. 2024. 1:56

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Germany’s largest trade union wants 4-day work week

IG Metall, Germany’s largest trade union, has called for introducing a four-day work week – something it will push for as a priority in the upcoming collective bargaining process.

IG Metall, representing around 2.17 million steel workers, called for reducing working hours from 35 to 32 hours a week with equal pay.

“We have to accompany the transformation of the steel industry socially,” Knut Giesler, the head of IG Metall in North Rhine-Westphalia, told WAZ.

“With a four-day week and more flexible working time accounts, we can respond much better to the changes and also absorb the loss of work without workers having to fear for their jobs,” he added.

Reducing working hours is seen by Germany’s steel industry as one way to prevent the layoffs it expects as a result of the Green Transition.

Some companies have already introduced their own schemes, such as steel-producer Thyssenkrupp, whose employees can now choose between working 33 or 35 hours per week.

However, compared to Germany, other European companies appear to have already taken more steps in reducing employee working hours.

Belgium, for instance, passed a law in November 2022 that allows employees to decide whether to work four or five days a week. The UK, for its part, recently successfully completed a six months pilot project that tested how shortening working hours impacts business productivity.

(Oliver Noyan | EURACTIV.de)