Industry dialogue with GDA and IG Metall

How can the social partners bring their visions of industry policies into harmony, while still accounting for issues such as globalisation, the new trade policies of the USA, the digitalisation process in companies, and the energy transition?

Aluminium industry workers want secure and fair employment

aluminium tubes
from left to right: Bernd Lauenroth and Dr. Hilde Wagner,both IG Metall; Thomas Reuther, TRIMET Aluminium SE, Hanne Simensen, Norsk Hydro ASA; Christian Wellner, GDA - Picture: © Ulrike Reinker

These were the questions at the heart of the "Industry dialogue among social partners 2017" between IG Metall and GDA-Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie .The joint event took place on 7 November 2017 in Essen. Its guiding theme was "Industry policy needs good employment and a framework that is fit for the future". "Our aim is to achieve a dialogue among all the stakeholders which focuses on the workers, because what this is all about is the future viability of their jobs in the aluminium industry," explained IG Metall Secretary Bernd Lauenroth, remarking on the goals of the industry dialogue. Christian Wellner, Executive Member of the Managing Board of the GDA, pointed out that holding dialogue can help formulate common goals: "For us, the most important issue is to safeguard jobs at work sites in Germany. To accomplish this innovation, investment and sustainable management are called for."

Already in 2008 the GDA and IG Metall began a joint series of discussions aimed at promoting efficient use of resources. These discussions were instituted by Netzwerk Ressourceneffizienz, an initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB); IG Metall and the GDA are among the founding members of this initiative. Since then, discussions between the GDA and IG Metall have been ongoing. In 2016 they resumed their dialogue with a joint event on the subject of "Industry policy and qualification".

The good cooperation between the two continued in the current industry dialogue "Industry policy needs good employment and a framework that is fit for the future". In this dialogue, management personnel and more than 80 works council representatives from the German aluminium industry discussed subjects related to industry and energy policies. Subject block 1 dealt with the question of "What do employees in the aluminium industry want and expect from the social partners, particularly with regard to how work is organised and time sovereignty". From the point of view of IG Metall, Dr. Hilde Wagner, member of the IG Metall executive board for the area of industry policies, presented new working time models, such as the 28-hour work week. Hanne Simensen of the group executive board of Norsk Hydro ASA, Oslo, talked on the challenges of organising work times and the compatibility of work and private life.

Subject block 2 focussed on "Political impulses for Germany as location for industry. A path in exciting times – Challenges and success factors for the aluminium industry".  

Christoph Dammermann, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitization and Energy in NRW presented the new state government's "Unleashing package" and called for "framework conditions in industry and energy policies in Europe that are viable for the future". The positions held by the aluminium industry on recycling management and energy policies were illustrated by Thomas Reuther, member of TRIMET Aluminium SE's executive board. He made clear that the aluminium industry is an essential link in the value-added chain and that energy would have to remain reliable, clean and affordable. Christian Wellner identified challenges and success factors for the aluminium industry: "The success of the material and the industry in the long term depends on new solutions and products. For this it is important to retain the added value chains in all their depth, so that in future production can continue in Germany in its full technological breadth.”

The subject of the concluding round of discussions was "Industry and energy policies in Europe". Participating in the discussions were Ralf Sikorski, member of the executive board of IG Bergbau, Chemie, Energie; Michael Gessner, Department Manager of energy, nuclear technology, and mining in the Ministry of Economics, Innovation, Digitization and Energy in NRW, as well as Thomas Reuther and Christian Wellner. Despite the differing views regarding the details, everyone who took part in the discussions agreed that industry and energy policies should not limit themselves to the economic framework. Employees are looking for secure and fair employment – in other words they want to prevent a precarious job situation and improve regulation of temporary workers and service contracts. On top of that sustainable management is an important goal. This would require efficient use of resources, setting ambitious climate objectives, and expanding the production of regenerative energy.