Greater Flexibility, More Opportunities

German Labor Leader: Continuing Education is not the Privilege of Academics

Jörg Hoffmann zur Forderungsempfehlung der Tarifkommission
IG Metall Executive Jörg Hoffmann wants employers to pay for more worker training.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s biggest labor union is demanding greater flexibility and continuing education opportunities for workers.

  • Facts


    • IG Metall is Germany’s largest labor union.
    • Many of its 2.4 million members work in the auto industry.
    • The Industry 4.0 initiative promotes computerization in German manufacturing.
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Don’t believe all the headlines that proclaim: “German employees are tired of working.” That’s just not true.  Workers across Germany are willing to do their jobs and be flexible.

That’s a key finding of a recent survey by IG Metall, Germany’s largest metalworkers’ union. More than 500,000 members participated and the results will help the union set goals for coming years.

The survey clearly shows that employees are willing to adjust their lives to fast-paced work requirements and show exceptional commitment.

But companies often turn the screws too tight and take advantage. For instance, they frequently expect employees to work long into the night and drop their own work to pitch in on other tasks. Many also insist that employees always be reachable by phone or email after working hours.

Constant and increasing performance pressure exacerbates the situation. Working hours can get out of hand, and the personal lives of workers and their ability to plan ahead fall by the wayside.

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