Workplace Report June 2007

European news

Print and paper deals done but firms reject settlement in construction

Last month's settlement in the German metalworking industry (see Workplace Report, May 2007) has been followed by agreements in other industries, but building industry employers have again rejected a compromise deal.

The settlement in the paper-making industry was agreed on 16 May, after the intervention of an arbitrator. It runs for 19 months from 1 March 2007 to 30 September 2008, with a pay increase of 3.2% in May 2007 and another of 2.0% in May 2008. In addition, the 44,000 employed in the industry get a one-off payment of €95 this month.

The settlement for 180,000 print workers, signed on 6 June, is similar although its total value is less. It runs for 24 months from April 2007, with a 3.0% increase in July 2007 and a 2.1% increase in July 2008.

Both agreements are above inflation, which stood at 1.9% in May, although less than the 4.1% the metalworkers achieved.

However, the chance of an agreement for 680,000 German building workers seems further off than ever after employers rejected a compromise proposal from the arbitrator on 4 June. The employers had previously repudiated an agreement signed by their own negotiators.

The arbitrator's proposal, including a 3.5% increase in June 2007, was rejected by employers in some regions who wanted greater flexibility in the payments made by individual employers. Strikes were in prospect as Workplace Report went to press.