German metalworkers ponder strike

THE IG Metall metalworkers' union is going ahead with a strike vote that could potentially cripple Germany's auto industry and stall the nation's economic recovery.

About 100,000 IG Metall members in the north German state of Lower Saxony started casting strike ballots March 1. If the workers support the measure, a strike could begin March 7 at factories throughout Lower Saxony, which is holding statewide elections on March 13. Leaders of the 3.2 million-member union say they are willing to settle for a nominal pay hike, along with job guarantees. But employers want a wage freeze, saying costs need to be drastically reduced to maintain industrial competitiveness.

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