28 Hour Working Week

German workers have won the right to a 28-hour week for a better work-life balance. IG Metal, Europe´s largest trade union, won the battle for its workers. The collective deal covers around 90.000 metal and engineering workers. It is a victory after three 24-hour strikes, called by IG Metal, in which more than 15.000 workers from 80 companies participated.

At the moment the decision only affects people in south-western state of Baden-Württemberg but it is expected to bring changes in other industries all over Germany as well. From next year on workers can opt to take the 28-hour week for up to two years. It offers more flexibility in general – employers have the right to offer a 40-hour contract to more workers.

The head of employer´s association for the industry, Rainer Dugler, said this victory is a first step in the right direction and lays the foundation for a flexible working time system. The trend goes towards more free time and less pay. The decision was made in response to gig economy where people are able to control their own working hours much more easily.

Furthermore, it reflects the self-confidence among trade unions in Germany. This topic is one of the biggest industrial disputes in the metalwork sector in three decades. It gives employers who usually work in shifts the opportunity to spend more time with their family, to look after their aging parents or young children.


trade union (treɪd ˈju:njən) – die Gewerkschaft
battle (ˈbætl̩) – der Kampf, Gefecht
collective deal (kəˈlektɪv di:l) – Sammelabkommen, gemeinsames Abkommen
victory (ˈvɪktəri) – der Sieg
to participate (pɑ:ˈtɪsɪpeɪt) – sich beteiligen, teilnehmen
to expect (ɪkˈspekt) – jdn/etw erwarten, mit etw/jdm rechnen
to opt (ɒpt) – sich für etw entscheiden, wählen
to offer (ˈɒfəʳ) – etw anbieten, bieten
contract (ˈkɒntrækt) – der Vertrag
head (hed) – hier: die Leitung, Vorsitzende(r)
foundation (ˌfaʊnˈdeɪʃən) – die Basis, Grundlage
working hour (ˈwɜ:kɪŋ aʊəʳ) – die Arbeitszeit
to reflect (rɪˈflekt) – wiederspiegeln, etw zeigen
self-confidence (self- ˈkɒnfɪdən(t)s) – das Selbstvertrauen, Sicherheit
dispute (dɪˈspju:t) – die Debatte, Streit
shift (ʃɪft) – die Schicht


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