THOUSANDS OF building workers downed tools and walked off sites throughout Germany to demand a 4.5% pay rise. The strikers are also demanding a rise in the minimum pay rate for workers in the former Eastern Germany.
The strike called by the 900,000-strong IG Bau union is the country’s first construction workers strike since 1945 and follows a series of labour strikes in recent weeks.
As reported in The Socialist (Issues 254/255) the metalworkers’ trade union, IG Metall, launched a rolling regional programme of strikes over pay. Eventually, a 22-month deal was agreed by the union’s leadership which fell short of the union’s official demand for a 6.5% pay rise.
The strike is significant as it follows a massive 98% vote for action by union members and comes at a time of severe recession in the construction industry.
The strike also comes just three months ahead of the general election, much to the chagrin of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder whose Social Democrat and Green Party coalition government is haemorrhaging working class support because of its capitalist agenda.
The strike which began in Berlin and Hamburg is set to spread to southern Germany and nationwide next week failing any resumption of pay talks.
This article will appear in the The Socialist, paper of the CWI England and Wales section, on 21 June 2002.