BERLIN (Reuters) — Thousands of engineering workers on night shift across Germany walked out over a wage dispute early on Thursday, IG Metall, Germany's biggest trade union, said.
The union, which represents 3.7 million workers, has rejected an offer from employers for a 2.2 per cent pay increase for 2015 from March 1. It wants a 5.5 per cent rise for all of 2015, saying solid growth in Europe's biggest economy justified the demand.
In North Rhine-Westphalia alone more than 3,000 employees at 15 companies downed tools for at least an hour after midnight and protested in front of factory gates, a regional branch of IG Metall said.
Companies affected across Germany included carmakers BMW and Daimler, as well as automotive supplier Schaeffler.
Further warning stoppages are expected during the course of the day and in coming weeks.
Wage negotiations between employers and the union are due to continue on Feb. 6 in North Rhine-Westphalia and on Feb. 11 in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Usually the first region to strike a deal is a precedent for the whole country.
Separately, security staff have gone on strike at two of Germany's smaller airports, Duesseldorf and Cologne/Bonn, causing the cancellation of hundreds of flights, after trade union Verdi called for a walkouts following three fruitless rounds of pay talks.
Duesseldorf airport said 205 takeoffs and landings had been cancelled, out of total planned aircraft movements of 530.
At Cologne/Bonn airport, 40 flights were cancelled out of a planned 190 take-offs and departures. The airports advised passengers to prepare for delays and to avoid bringing hand luggage to speed up security checks.