LAHNSTEIN, Germany (AP) -- Some 550,000 workers in Germany's chemical industry have won pay increases of nearly 5 percent this year and another 3.3 percent in 2009, negotiators said Wednesday.
The settlement is the latest in a series of hefty increases for German workers. It follows a deal last month to give some 2.1 million public-sector employees a roughly 8 percent raise over two years, while train drivers won an 11 percent increase.
The IG BCE union and the BAVC employers' organization said chemical industry workers will get a 4.4 percent increase this year, plus one-time payments equivalent to another 0.5 percent. Another 3.3 percent raise will follow next year.
Union negotiators initially called for a 7 percent pay increase this year. However, IG BCE negotiator Werner Bischoff said Wednesday's outcome was a ''good result.''
Unions in several sectors have argued this year that workers deserve generous wage increases after years of restraint.
Their case has been helped by concern in Germany over perceptions that wealth from the country's recent economic upswing is being distributed unfairly. Still, hefty increases could help fuel inflation that already is running at above 3 percent.