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BMW General Discussion
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MAR. 28 7:06 A.M. ET Workers at a BMW AG car plant in eastern Germany staged a short strike on Tuesday, escalating a dispute over wages for industrial workers across Europe's largest economy.
More than 1,000 staff at the BMW factory in Leipzig stopped work for an hour on Tuesday morning, the IG Metall labor union said.
IG Metall has announced a wave of warning strikes this week after a third round of wage talks ended Monday without result. Firms to be hit with brief stoppages on Wednesday include Ford Motor Co. and Siemens AG. The talks are to resume next week.
The Gesamtmetall employers federation criticized the stoppages, saying they endangered jobs by damaging German firms' reputation, and accused the union of being set on strike action. "Whatever we say or propose, IG Metall can't drop its old rituals," it said in a statement.
The union is seeking a 5 percent pay hike and better training for some 3.4 million manufacturing workers across Germany. It says a hike is justified by improvements in productivity and strong corporate profits.
"We have contributed to good industrial development for years with moderate wage deals, and now we want our share," said Sieglinde Merbitz, an IG Metall leader in Leipzig.
But employers argue that wages can be raised by only 1.2 percent plus an unspecified one-off payment. They say a larger increase could damage the competitiveness of German industry and undermine the country's hesitant economic recovery.
Workers at automaker DaimlerChrysler AG and other firms already staged brief warning walkouts earlier in March to step up pressure on employers.
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