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The employer organisation of the Ruhr area (Arbeitgeber Ruhr) and the metal workers union (IG-Metall) have recently signed a bilateral agreement, which enables employers to exchange staff. If one employer does not have enough work he can lend staff to another employer whose order books might be fuller, WAZ reports.
The agreement applies to 350 companies in the area and 70,000 employees. It is voluntary on behalf of the employees. Nobody can be forced to work for another company in times of work shortage and the respective Work Councils need to give their seal of approval in each case.
Valve manufacturer Flow Serve for example has recently 'borrowed' seven qualified workers for a period of seven months from Atlas Copco in order to cover peaks in manufacturing. They remain Atlas Copco's employees and Flow Serve pays their wages to Atlas Copco.
iGZ representative Wolfram Linke said "in our experience temporary employment does not work beyond the borders of cities. Many employees are a lot less [geographically] flexible than people think."
Both the union and the employers' association are aware of this lack of geographical flexibility and are currently thinking about levels of travel expenses. The problem will be that these will have to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis between the borrowing and the lending employer.