German union sues over broken wage promises

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The Independent Online
FRANKFURT (Reuter) - IG Metall, Germany's largest union, said yesterday it was taking legal action against employers for unilaterally cancelling wage contracts in eastern Germany.

The metal and engineering union said it hoped that labour courts would rule that the cancellation of wage contracts with regional employers was illegal.

Employers, arguing that the economic situation had worsened since the deals were struck, have thrown out contracts that foresaw increases of 26 per cent for the engineering sector and 21 per cent for the steel sector in eastern Germany. The deals, struck in 1991 in the wake of reunification, were designed to bring wages in the east nearer to levels in the west.

The union's deputy chairman, Klaus Zwickel, said IG Metall was seeking a political solution for the wage dispute through the action.

'Wage contracts are threatened with becoming trash - first in eastern Germany and then also in western Germany - if the IG Metall does not use

all the measures it can,' he

said.

But the union added that it would take a few years for the courts to decide on the case.

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