German Industry Warning Strike Over Pay Nears 130,000 Workers

German industry was hit by walkouts by almost 130,000 workers today in so-called warning strikes over pay conditions, according to their union.

The strikes had affected 600 businesses across the country by 2:30 p.m. in Frankfurt, with more than a third of the strikers in the state of Bavaria, the IG Metall union said in an e-mailed statement.

German workers are represented in large companies’ decision-making processes as a consequence of the country’s 1976 co-determination law, which grants them equal representation on supervisory boards with shareholders and is intended to reduce the likelihood of walkouts.

Germany has coupled one of the most competitive economies in Europe with one of the region’s lowest birth rates for the past 40 years, leaving fewer workers to support an increasingly aging population.

The metalworker union is seeking a 5.5 percent pay rise for a year for its members, of whom almost 700,000 in 2,600 businesses have taken part in the strikes, which usually last no more than an hour.

Of today’s strikers, 45,000 were in the state of Bavaria, 20,000 in North Rhine-Westphalia, 17,000 in Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt and 28,000 in the north of the country around Hamburg, the union said.

Separately, 49,300 Volkswagen AG employees temporarily walked out in a wage dispute today, of whom 31,000 were in the company’s hometown of Wolfsburg, Germany.

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