German workers have won a major victory after a prominent employers group agreed to the demands of the country’s largest trade union, which included a 28-hour working week and a 4.3% pay rise. The agreement between IG Metall, a metalworks union which represents a variety of industrial workers, and Südwestmetall employer’s federation was reached after six rounds of talks, and a series 24-hour strikes. The two-year deal covers 900,000 workers in the metals and electrical industries in Baden-Württemberg, home to several of Germany’s most high-profile industrial groups, including Daimler and Bosch.
Owing to the high profile of IG Metall, and the case itself, it is likely that similar schemes will be rolled out in other sectors across Germany. This move towards a shorter working week is indicative of a growing mindset amongst young workers, who are keen to be able to better reconcile their personal and professional lives, which would allow more time for family and vocational activities.
Will this reduction in hours still allow for the same level of productivity, whilst improving people’s quality of life? Should more countries be considering a shorter working week?