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German steel workers to hold token strikes this week after pay talks stall

London — Trade union IG Metall said it has called for token strikes this week at German steel companies, starting with Thyssenkrupp's Dortmund works on Monday after a third round of pay talks on Friday ended without a deal.

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A German mill source said the pay increase being asked for would put pressure on overall production costs at a time when prices for raw materials, CO2 certificates and electricity were high.

IG Metall wants a 6% pay increase and Eur1,800 ($2,060) annual holiday pay with the option to convert those into non-working days for 72,000 steelworkers in northwestern Germany, which the steel employers association Arbeitgeberveband Stahl (AGV) has rejected.

AGV Stahl said it would not make a counter suggestion while it would be unclear over the details of how the annual holiday pay would be converted into non-working days.

"Unfortunatley the third round did not bring the hoped for rapproachment. Contrary to the previous rounds I have not experienced the behaviour of IG Metall as constructive," said Andreas Goss, head of AGV Stahl.

Strikes were expected to also take place across other companies in northwestern Germany this week.

Thyssenkrupp was not available for comment on the impact of the strike. The Westfalenhuette plant comprises of a cold strip mill, galvanising and other finishing lines.

Token strikes usually last for a few hours and can be staged without a ballot.

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IG Metall said some workers of Thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, Huettenwerke Krupp Mannesmann and ArcelorMittal Duisburg also participated in protests last Friday night.

The next negotiating round is scheduled for February 18, while collective agreement talks have also kicked off in Eastern Germany for 8,000 workers.

-- Laura Varriale,

-- Edited by Daniel Lalor,