IG Metall

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IGM logo.png
Full nameGerman Metalworkers' Union
Native nameIndustriegewerkschaft Metall
FoundedSeptember 1, 1949, West Germany
Members2.27 million[1]
Key people
  • Jörg Hofmann
  • Christiane Benner
Office locationFrankfurt, Germany
IG Metall Headquarters in Frankfurt

IG Metall (German: Industriegewerkschaft Metall, "Industrial Union of Metalworkers'") is the dominant metalworkers' union in Germany, making it the country's largest union[1] as well as Europe’s largest industrial union.[2] Analysts of German labor relations consider it a major trend-setter in national bargaining.

The name refers to the union's metalworkers roots dating back to the start of unions in imperial Germany in the 1890s, though this formal organization was founded post-war in 1949.[3] Over the years the union has taken on representation in industries beyond mining of minerals to include manufacturing and industrial production, machinists, printing industry, which includes modern automobile manufacturing and steel production as part of its blue-collar root, but also includes more white-collar sectors such as electrical and other forms of engineering, information systems, and with the combining of formerly separate unions for workers in wood, plastics, textiles and clothing, includes non-metal blue-collar workers. [3] Deals agreed by IG Metall in the pilot region of Baden-Württemberg, an industrial and car-making hub and home to Daimler and Bosch, traditionally serve as a template for agreements across the country.[4] IG Metall and ver.di together account for around 15 percent of the German workforce, and other sectors tend to broadly follow their agreements.[5]

Major accomplishments of IG Metall in the German labor market include, applied to the regions/covered employees:[3]

  • 5 day work week (1959)
  • Paid vacation time concessions (1962)
  • 40 hr work week (1965–67)
  • Paid sick leave (1956)
  • 35 hr work week (attempts not yet successful 1984)
  • 35 hr work week in metal industry (1995)

Most recently, IG Metall agreed a landmark deal with employers in 2016, giving 3.8 million workers in the metalwork sector a two-stage pay rise of 4.8 percent over 21 months.[6]



On April 1, 1998 the Gewerkschaft Textil und Bekleidung (GTB), the trade union of textile and clothing joined IG Metall. On January 1, 2000 the Gewerkschaft Holz und Kunststoff (GHK), the trade union of wood and plastics, also joined.

Today IG Metall mainly represents employees at major car makers such as Daimler, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi and industrial giants such as Siemens, Thyssen-Krupp, Airbus, Salzgitter AG, ArcelorMittal, Bosch and smaller mechanic construction companies and car-mechanics. Its membership had been dropping in recent decades – it lost 250,000 members in 1993 alone –[7], yet the union managed to somewhat reverse that trend recently by gaining 30,000 members between 2010 and 2015.[1] A record in wage deals, along with a push to recruit more women, young people (e.g. students) and white-collar workers, helped it boost 2015 membership by 121,000 to 2.3 million and income by 3.4 percent to 533 million euros ($582 million); this rise came against a backdrop of generally declining union in Germany.[8]

Major strikes[edit]

Strikes are rare in Germany, where companies and unions strive for consensus whenever possible. One of the first strikes of IG Metall lasted seven weeks in 1984 in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, which led to a reduction in the workweek to 35 hours from 37. Another major strike was organized by IG Metall in 1995, when up to 11,000 workers in Bavaria remained off the job for two weeks.[9].[10] In 2002, IG Metall called a wave of one-day strikes in a demand for a 6.5 percent increase in wages; German industry settled the dispute two weeks later by offering a raise of roughly 4 percent.[11][12] In 2003, the union was forced to drop its campaign for a shorter workweek in the factories of eastern Germany after its hard-nosed negotiating tactics were repudiated by Germans across the political spectrum.[13] In early 2018, more than 900,000 workers took part in industrial action in support of IG Metall’s demands for higher pay and the right to shortened working hours.[14]

International relations[edit]

IG Metall is a member of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, DGB). IGM is also a member of some international union umbrella organisations, including the European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF) and the IndustriALL Global Union.

In 2015, IG Metall and the U.S. United Automobile Workers (UAW) announced that they would deepen their partnership and set up an office in Tennessee to boost labor rights at German automakers and their suppliers based in the United States.[15]

Organisation structure[edit]

Regional districts[edit]

IG Metall consists of 7 Bezirke (districts) which are subdivided in Verwaltungstellen (administrative areas):


  • 1949-1950: Hans Brümmer, Walter Freitag, Wilhelm Petersen
  • 1950-1952: Hans Brümmer // 2nd chairman: Walter Freitag
  • 1952-1956: Hans Brümmer // 2nd chairman: Otto Brenner
  • 1956-1968: Otto Brenner
  • 1968-1972: Otto Brenner // 2nd chairman: Eugen Loderer
  • 1972-1983: Eugen Loderer // 2nd chairman: Hans Mayr
  • 1983-1986: Hans Mayr // 2nd chairman: Franz Steinkühler
  • 1986-1989: Franz Steinkühler // 2nd chairman: Karl-Heinz Jansen
  • 1989-1993: Franz Steinkühler // 2nd chairman: Klaus Zwickel
  • 1993-1998: Klaus Zwickel // 2nd chairman: Walter Riester
  • 1998-2003: Klaus Zwickel // 2nd chairman: Jürgen Peters
  • 2003-2007: Jürgen Peters // 2nd chairman: Berthold Huber
  • 2007-2013: Berthold Huber // 2nd chairman: Detlef Wetzel
  • 2013-2015: Detlef Wetzel // 2nd chairman: Jörg Hofmann
  • Since 20 October 2015: Jörg Hofmann // 2nd chairwoman: Christiane Benner

Notable members[edit]

metall magazine[edit]

The IGM magazine metallzeitung has existed since 1949. In 2005 it had a circulation of over 2 million. There are 12 issues per year.


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Thelen, Kathleen. 1993. West European Labor in Transition: Sweden and Germany Compared. World Politics 46, no. 1 (October): 23-49.

Coordinates: 50°06′12″N 8°39′58″E / 50.1034°N 8.6660°E / 50.1034; 8.6660