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Germany – Union criticises BMW over temporary staff

20 February 2012

Germany’s biggest metalworkers’ union, IG Metall, has criticised BMW over the firm’s use of temporary staff. “Regarding temporary employment, BMW has excessively overused [temporary workers]. We assume that BMW hires around 11,000 temporary workers,” said one spokesman of IG Metall, Horst Lischka. The union now demands a clear restriction of temporary employees in the company and co-determination of the workers committee to veto the use of temporary staff. 

BMW meanwhile refuses to publicise the concrete numbers of temporary workers the firm is using. “Temporary employment is an important tool to maintain flexibility,” commented BMW to the newspaper Handelsblatt.      

BMW has been sued this month by union representatives who had refused to renew a new round of temporary contracts, claiming that this practice created a two-tier system of employees. However, last week a German Labour Court ruled in favour of BMW, allowing 33 out of the 1,100 temporary employees at the firm’s Leipzig branch to continue working there. 

The case has stirred up a whole discussion on the use of temporary workers in the country. IG Metall is in the middle of a collective bargaining round and has made it one of its central goals to restrict the use of temporary staff in the future.  

However, the President of the Association of Employers in the Metal Industry (Gesamtmetall), Martin Kannegiesser today said in an interview that he is definitely against such measures. 

Commenting on these demands Mr Kannegiesser said that “We believe this is wrong and we will not go along with this.” He also pointed out that two thirds of businesses in the metal industry do not use temporary workers and denounced claims that temporary workers take away jobs from permanent employees. He also predicted that many temporary workers are likely to lose their jobs should next week’s talks on wage agreements for temporary employees implement a premium for temporary staff. 

Recently politicians have demanded high premiums for temporary workers as some believe new legislation is needed to guarantee equal pay for equal work.

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