November 19, 2015 / 7:19 PM / 3 years ago

Germany's IG Metall to deepen ties with U.S. union UAW

Day shift workers and members of Germany's engineering and metal workers union IG Metall (IGM) of the Ford car factory in the Cologne suburb of Niehl, stage a temporary walkout during a warning strike in protest for higher wages January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s largest trade union said on Thursday it would deepen its partnership with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the United States to help boost labor rights at German automakers and their suppliers based there.

Frankfurt-based union IG Metall estimates that 100,000 employees work for German auto manufacturers in the United States.

“We want to help the UAW to comprehensively ensure good working conditions, fair remuneration and genuine employee participation rights in the United States,” said Wolfgang Lemb, an IG Metall executive board member.

For the UAW the partnership is a chance to develop new approaches in representing employees’ interests, said Gary Casteel, UAW vice president and head of its organizing effort at foreign-owned plants.

Trade unions are a powerful voice in Germany. IG Metall represents employees’ interests at all major car makers in Germany and unions sit on the boards of all major companies. In the United States unions generally wield far less clout.

The statement on ties with the UAW comes against the backdrop of the emissions scandal at Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE).

The German carmaker has opposed a bid by skilled trades workers at its lone U.S. auto assembly plant to be represented by the UAW, saying the timing is bad. The vote is due to take place on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Gareth Jones

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