Chemical and power business: “The will-o-the-wisp caused by the energy transition” – industrial union sharply criticizes site visitors lights | EUROtoday

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Die Industrial Union Mining, Chemicals, Energy (IGBCE) is taken into account one of many much less inflammatory unions on this nation. Comparably brief collective bargaining rounds, manageable wage will increase and uncommon strikes have formed the picture of the chemical and power union lately.

However, the drastic location warnings and the collapse in manufacturing resulting from excessive power costs may now provoke a turnaround. Union chief Michael Vassiliadis is on a collision course with the site visitors lights. Their actions had been characterised by “inexplicable recklessness,” he mentioned on the IGBCE annual press convention.

After the talk about industrial electrical energy costs and the specter of deindustrialization dominated a lot of the summer time, the time period had disappeared from the headlines by late autumn. In October, after a lot forwards and backwards, the site visitors mild leaders agreed on a compromise: Instead of capping it at 60 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), the tax on electrical energy consumed ought to be diminished to the EU minimal of fifty cents per MWh. But only a week after the settlement, the Federal Constitutional Court made its judgment on the site visitors mild’s finances coverage – and promptly questioned the dedication.

Source: Infographic WELT

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has assured that he’ll persist with a “massive electricity tax cut of three billion euros for all manufacturing companies”. “This reduction applies for the years 2024 and 2025. It is to be extended for another three years,” mentioned Lindner on the finish of December. However, there may be one restriction: This solely applies “if counter-financing can be presented in the federal budget for the years 2026 to 2028.”

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Is that sufficient to maintain energy-hungry sectors comparable to chemical substances and prescription drugs at location D? The results are already immense. According to the Federal Chemical Employers Association (BAVC), manufacturing within the chemical and pharmaceutical industries can have shrunk by eight % in 2023.

“If you look at the chemical industry without pharmaceuticals, the production decline is eleven percent,” says affiliation managing director Klaus-Peter Stiller. The business achieved gross sales of 230 billion euros in 2023 – in 2022 it was nonetheless 261 billion euros. That corresponds to a minus of virtually twelve %.

Over a 3rd of staff concern for his or her jobs

Vassiliadis additionally has doubts as as to if the extent of earlier years may be maintained. “Not entire locations, but individual plants are already being shut down. “Sometimes you can’t even see that from the outside,” he mentioned on the convention within the Berlin commerce union constructing. “Things look bleak.”

38 % of staff are very or very afraid of dropping jobs in their very own firm, as an IGBCE member survey exhibits. “Fears of the future and pessimism characterize the mood,” says Vassiliadis. “Something big has to happen for people to speak out like that.”

The nation is caught between a number of crises, weak world demand and home-made issues. “A dangerous underlying mood of fear of decline and disillusionment with the state is spreading among the population, which only plays into the hands of the radicals and populists,” warned Vassiliadis.

Energy costs have settled right into a “new normal”. However, that is nonetheless above the pre-crisis stage and is just too excessive in comparison with competing nations. “We demanded the industrial electricity price. We got the – electricity price package.” Vassiliadis dragged out the phrase, a touch of disgust in his voice.

The bundle can’t “fix the imbalance”, particularly for the reason that subsidies for community charges have now been canceled. The background: According to Lindner, the federal subsidy initially deliberate for 2024 “can no longer be financed as a result of the Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling”. The related bills – 5.5 billion euros – would now should be saved.

Source: Infographic WELT

But one factor is evident: the transformation wouldn’t be doable with out important subsidies. “Many companies are seriously unsure whether production will ever be worthwhile in the future,” warned Vassiliadis. “We are wandering through the energy transition.” Industry now wants quicker inexperienced power. “But it’s not enough if the electricity is green and climate-friendly, it also has to be affordable.”

His considerably imprecise proposal: the creation of a “state-backed pool” to finance renewable techniques. That would make 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt hour doable. The federal authorities must also get entangled with the community operators so as to speed up the enlargement.

“I’m not talking about nationalization, but about getting in,” mentioned Vassiliadis. It can be clear: “If we have a shortage, industry must get the electricity first.” “Right of way for energy-intensive companies when supplied with green electricity,” he calls it.

The uncertainties within the business are at the moment inflicting the unions to make lofty calls for. IG Metall boss Christiane Benner just lately proposed a particular fund of 600 billion euros for the ecological restructuring of the business over the following six years.

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In precept, IG Metall’s demand is appropriate, mentioned Vassiliadis when requested. He did not need to decide to a selected quantity. But he additionally emphasised: “I don’t think 600 billion euros by 2030 is too much.” What that might imply and the place the cash would come from, he additionally remained unclear. He solely mentioned this a lot: “Future investments must be exempt from the debt brake.”

At least in a single respect issues are wanting up for the commerce unionists. The IGBCE skilled report progress in 2023. The variety of new additions rose by eleven % in comparison with the earlier yr. This signifies that the union is in step with the pattern. Verdi, for instance, additionally boasts of the very best stage of entry because it was based: 193,000 staff joined the service union.

In actuality, nonetheless, the chemical union is shrinking. The double-digit progress can’t compensate for the losses. Due to demographic causes, the variety of members fell by 1.3 % to 573,200. The declines are largely resulting from pensioners or deaths. “But we are growing within the company,” mentioned Vassiliadis. One in three folks within the business is a union member.

Retrospectively, individuals are dissatisfied with the final spherical of collective bargaining. “The massive price increases were not offset,” mentioned Vassiliadis. “The inflation compensation bonus has now evaporated.” The previous collective bargaining successes have been used up, which suggests a lack of actual wages for workers.

The subsequent spherical is developing in April. On the employer facet, expectations are already being tempered. “In 2024, the chemical industry is heading for a crisis collective bargaining round,” says Klaus-Peter Stiller. “It can’t be about distributing increases that aren’t there.”

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