Companies must be able to forgo wage increases in 2022, too

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Even in the second year of the pandemic, the machinery and plant engineering sector will not reach the pre-Corona sales level. The VDMA therefore supports the approach of the employers' associations to consider wage increases next year at the earliest.

VDMA chief economist and member of the VDMA executive board Dr. Ralph Wiechers comments on the collective bargaining round in the metal and electrical industry, which continues this week in the districts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Southwest and Saxony:

"Even in the second year of the pandemic, the mechanical and plant engineering sector will not reach the sales level of the pre-Corona period. We therefore support the approach of the employers' associations to consider wage increases next year at the earliest. To this end, the employers have proposed a one-off payment for the first half of 2022 and an increase in the pay scales for the second half of 2022. In our view, the condition for this must be that the collective bargaining partners provide for opening clauses for those companies that cannot yet go down this path. In plain language: companies that still do not reach pre-crisis levels next year must be able to forego wage increases in whole or at least in part.

"Companies that still don't reach pre-crisis levels next year must be able to forgo wage increases in whole or at least in part."

Moreover, the focus on the aftermath and the hopefully imminent end of the pandemic should not distract from the fact that many companies were already suffering significant losses before the virus hit. One reason for this was the structural change in the automotive industry, which is far from complete and is also having an impact on employment in our industry. At the end of 2020, 1.019 million people were employed in mechanical and plant engineering in Germany. That is 43,700 people or 4.1 percent fewer than just one year earlier. Short-time work - according to projections by the ifo Institute, around 161,000 employees in mechanical engineering were affected in December - undoubtedly helps to cushion temporary underutilisation. The necessary structural change should be flanked by wage restraint."