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Germany – IG Metall claims staffing firms are dodging surcharges

27 November 2012

The trade union IG Metall, which represents workers in the metal and electrical industry, is accusing some temporary employment agencies of circumventing the payment of surcharges to temporary workers.

According to the new collective agreement that came into force on 1 November this year, temporary workers in the metal and electrical industry are eligible for a 15% to 50% surcharge on top of the base pay rate.

"Many temporary work agencies are trying to circumvent the new industry surcharges," said IG Metall legal Counsel, Thomas Klebe, to the German daily newspaper Berliner Zeitung. "They are applying pressure on temporary workers to change their contracts in order to reduce costs."

In the Cologne region, the local IG Metall has held several meetings in recent weeks with temporary workers. According to the local union representative, Witich Rossmann, a total of 950 employees took part in the meeting. "We are being told that most temporary work agencies try to ply their employees to sign new contracts," said the union representative in a letter to the IG Metall headquarters in Frankfurt.

In the new contracts, many elements of compensation are removed from the base rate and thus are not taken into account in the calculation of the tariff surcharge. The result is that workers will only end up slightly better off, which is clearly not admissible says Rossmann.

Even the Federal Employers Association of Personnel Service (BAP) has expressed concerns. "I can only call on the industry to comply with the collective agreement," said BAP Vice-President Thomas Bäumer to the Berliner Zeitung, adding “a flexible job market can only work if everyone abides by the rules”.

Bäumer warns firms tempted to circumvent the new agreement: “firms disregarding the agreement run the risk of having to pay their employees more than their client’s regular employees. By law, contract workers may only be paid less if there is a collective agreement allowing it”.

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