Germany's Biggest Industrial Union Names New Leader
Tue, 09/04/2007 - 7:16am
BERLIN (AP) — Germany's biggest industrial union, IG Metall, on Monday nominated Berthold Huber, a top union deputy for four years, to take over as its leader later this year.
Current leader Juergen Peters has said he will not seek re-election in November when his term expires, the union said.
The union leadership nominated Huber, 57, to replace him in a widely expected move that is subject to confirmation by a union congress in November.
IG Metall represents a broad range of workers in Germany's key manufacturing sector in wage talks with employers. It has 2.3 million members.
Earlier this year, it secured a pay increase of 4.1 percent this year and another 1.7 percent next year for manufacturing workers. It went into talks demanding a 6.5 percent raise.
Peters said the union's top executive board unanimously nominated Huber for the top job.
His smooth elevation contrasts with bickering that preceded the installation in 2003 of Peters, a long-serving traditionalist who had pushed for a failed strike for a shorter working week in eastern Germany.
That was solved when Peters and Huber agreed to run as a duo, and the combination has worked smoothly since. Still, IG Metall, like other unions, continues to struggle with a shrinking membership.
Detlef Wetzel, the regional union head in North Rhine-Westphalia state, which includes the industrial Ruhr region, was nominated Monday as Huber's deputy. The 54-year-old also is viewed as a moderate.
Huber is a member of the center-left Social Democrats, which form half of Germany's governing coalition.
Relations between the party and the union have cooled over recent years. Peters strongly criticized Social Democratic former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's efforts to trim the welfare state and a plan by the current government to raise the retirement age to 67 from 65.