IG Metall wants collective agreements for new chip factories in Dresden

At the first semiconductor conference, the union establishes an industry network to better represent the interests of employees.
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Bild zeigt die IG Metall Fahne.
A semiconductor conference takes place in Dresden for the first time at the invitation of IG Metall. Sebastian Schultz (symbolic image)

From Nora Miethke

At Infineon in Regensburg has the Industrial Union for Metal (IG Metall) 25 years ago, the company pushed through a collective agreement. The company has also been active in Saxony for even longer. The Infineon Dresden production site was founded in 1994, back then as part of Siemens. Today, around 3,300 employees work there - without a collective agreement.

Infineon has so far seen no need for this, as salaries in Dresden are close to the collective agreement for the metal and electrical industry, says Stefan Ehly, first authorized representative of IG Metall for Dresden and Riesa. But that is not enough, because there are deviations in working hours and there is no classification system for pay, says Ehly. The trade unionist believes that Infineon will not be able to afford this attitude for much longer and will "sooner or later" opt for collective bargaining at the Dresden site. "Infineon has to fill 1,000 new jobs at the second plant and many more due to fluctuation and demographics. The collective agreement is the best advertising argument to attract skilled workers," said Ehly on Wednesday at the first IG Metall semiconductor conference in Dresden.

Together with the head of the trade union, he invited employees to Saxony, Europe's largest microelectronics location, Silicon Saxony, to discuss how the federal government's billions in funding for new chip factories can also contribute to good working conditions for employees in these fabs. Around 100 works councils from 16 semiconductor companies across Germany came to Dresden to establish an industry network with the aim of better representing the interests of employees in the future. "Billions must not become billionaires," said Ehly in his welcoming address. If you demand good work and collective bargaining, you are often perceived as a sourpuss. "We are not sourpusses, but those who speak out about the hard location factors" that are important in the competition for talent. And these are increasingly more flexible working time models than salary levels.

"We have to enter into negotiations on the four-day week if this is demanded. We have to find intelligent solutions," emphasized Christiane Benner, Federal Chairwoman of IG Metall. She was responding to Michael Kretschmer, who, as a panel guest, repeatedly defended his position that Germany could not afford a further reduction in working hours and thus the volume of work for competitive reasons. Kretschmer criticized that if the trade union, as a collective bargaining partner, advocated a reduction, this was its priority and legitimate, but federal policy should not intervene by constantly introducing new laws to regulate working hours.

Benner emphasized that the trade union is fully behind the billions in subsidies for the relocation of TSMC in Dresden, Intel in Magdeburg or Wolf speed in Saarlouis. Microelectronics is a key industry that is necessary to maintain Germany as an industrial location and to master the ecological and digital transformation. "But working conditions must also be right in this industry of the future: Collective bargaining, collective agreements and co-determination through works councils," demanded the trade unionist. IG Metall does not expect to be presented with a ready-made collective agreement every time a new company is established. It would fight for that itself. But she does expect a basic understanding that taxpayers' money for the promotion of industrial relocations should be combined with job security and the start of collective bargaining. "I am completely undogmatic about this. But what is not possible is something like what happened at Tesla," said Benner. You can't roll out the red carpet to a company that doesn't want to play by the rules in our country. The industrial trade unions Metall and Chemie (IG BCE) are both courting employees in microelectronics in order to compensate for membership losses in the automotive industry and the lignite industry. Benner does not see any competition, although both unions claim to be the semiconductor union.

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"It's a good thing that IG BCE has reached a collective agreement with Globalfoundries," says Benner. The chemical union concluded a collective agreement with the US chip manufacturer a year ago. X-Fab in Dresden and Siltronic in Freiberg are also bound by collective agreements, the IG BCE pointed out in a press release in the run-up to the semiconductor conference. In the press release, the chemical union, together with Globalfoundries and X-Fab, invites employees to a "parliamentary breakfast" in Berlin in June.

IG Metall, on the other hand, has not yet been so successful in Saxony. Wage negotiations are underway with Bosch for the Dresden chip plant and there are hopes of a rethink at Infineon.

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