Collective agreement reached

After 10 rounds of negotiations, a joint collective agreement was reached at SPIES Packaging in Melle. At the specialist for plastic packaging in the food industry with approximately 450 employees at the Gesmold site, a joint IG Metall collective agreement applies for the first time. From July 1, 2022, this will result in a significant increase in lower incomes in particular.

For historical reasons there were major differences between the two legally separate areas of "toolmaking" and "plastics": Collective agreement coverage in the skilled trades on the one hand and collective agreement freedom in the industry on the other.

"This situation led to the fact that we practically found a multitude of different working conditions in production. Hardly any employment relationship resembled the other, especially in terms of wages," explains Markus Wente, IG Metall negotiator. "And this understandably led to resentment among the colleagues, who set out together with IG Metall in the direction of a collective agreement."

To this end, a large-scale project to harmonize the remuneration systems started at SPIES Packaging back in 2020. "Fairness, transparency, development, safeguarding the future - under these premises, an individual, tailor-made in-house collective agreement was to be developed together with the works council and IG Metall," Christof Spies, CEO of SPIES Packaging, formulates the motives for the initiative.

However, the outbreak of the Corona pandemic then quickly brought the negotiations to a standstill and delayed a possible outcome. This was now achieved in June 2022 after a total of 10 constructive rounds of negotiations. From July 1, 2022, the new in-house collective agreement with IG Metall will apply at SPIES Packaging.

In addition to a transparent remuneration system and the principle of "equal pay for equal work", the following collective bargaining conditions will apply at SPIES Packaging in the future, among others:

  • 37.5 hour week
  • 30 days of vacation
  • 70% of each monthly income as additional vacation and Christmas bonus
  • extensive pension schemes and compensation for pension deductions
  • unlimited employment of trainees as a matter of principle
  • a collectively agreed profit-sharing scheme
  • and much more

Overall, the working conditions were regulated extensively and in detail in 8 different collective agreements. These include the collective agreement on overtime, the collective agreement on remuneration, the collective agreement on special payments, the collective agreement on demography, and many more.

"Two aspects were particularly important to our colleagues: Firstly, a significant leap forward was needed, particularly in lower incomes in the production area, not least to cushion current inflation but also to remain attractive in the competition for new employees. Secondly, we wanted to put an end to the differences in treatment between the toolmaking and production areas. We were able to achieve both with the result," says Markus Wente, summarizing the negotiations.

Fabian Schaper, trade union secretary of IG Metall Osnabrück: "Despite Corona and long negotiation phases, the colleagues have shown that they stand behind their demand for a joint collective agreement. Solidarity and united action led to success in the end. The task now is to implement the collective agreement result. In the coming weeks, therefore, there will be a lot of work ahead for the company players. Here, we as IG Metall are providing active support. My thanks go to all active metalworkers at SPIES Packaging. In the end, your commitment has led to success."

Stephan Soldanski, First Authorized Representative of IG Metall Osnabrück, added: "I would like to see the result set an example in the Melle area. It shows that collective agreements are not the devil's work, but can also move a company forward. It is not without reason that the most successful companies in Germany are usually also bound by collective agreements. Unfortunately, this is still far too little the case in Melle. Despite long and sometimes difficult negotiations, SPIES' openness to its employees' demand for an IG Metall collective agreement shows that good and fair working conditions and economic success can go hand in hand."

Michael Frerich, Head of People & Culture at SPIES: "Especially in the current turbulent times, the conclusion of a comprehensive in-house collective agreement is anything but usual and a clear commitment of our entrepreneurial family to the headquarters in Melle-Gesmold. A great signal to our workforce and the region," says Michael Frerich.

All employees - from trainees to master craftsmen - are to be included in the newly created system. "Only as "Team SPIESer" we can do a good job for our customers and our common future" explains Michael Frerich. In addition to possible profit sharing, the new system also had to transparently present career development opportunities, pension plans, etc., "we succeeded in doing this together in intensive negotiations. In addition, we have retained the flexibility that we, as a family-owned medium-sized company, absolutely need".

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