Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 23:24:33 CST
From: (Rich Winkel)
/** 293.0 **/
** Topic: ICEM & Socially Tolerable Restructuring **
** Written 2:59 PM Mar 22, 1997 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: ICEM & Socially Tolerable Restructuring

German Coal Talks Outcome: Socially Tolerable Restructuring

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions, ICEM Update, No. 15, 13 March 1997

An agreement on the future of the German hard coal industry was reached between the mining and energy workers' union IGBE and Chancellor Helmut Kohl during talks in Bonn this morning. Leading the IGBE side in the negotiations was the union's President Hans Berger. Globally, the IGBE is affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), and Berger is the ICEM's President.

The following is a full translation of a statement issued by the IGBE after the conclusion of the talks in Bonn this morning:

Plans to raze the entire hard coal mining industry have been dropped, and the threat of a collapse as early as next year has been averted. That is the outcome of the talks in Bonn today between the IGBE leadership and Federal Chancellor Kohl. And there will be no dismissals. IGBE President Hans Berger stated after the negotiations: We have not won a brilliant victory, but we have been able to banish the spectre of unemployment in the mining industry. The restructuring can now be organised in a socially tolerable way. That's the most important thing. That was our primary aim.

Berger thanked the miners and everybody who had supported their struggle: Hundreds of campaigns, vigils lasting months on end and the solidarity of hundreds of thousands of people with mining and the miners have prevented a disaster.

Reaching agreement had entailed concessions by everybody involved, Berger said. The hard coal mining sector will continue to contract. Berger commented: In the year 2005, 30 million tonnes of coal will be produced in ten or eleven mines. That is a mining industry which will still be worthy of the name. That is a mining industry which will still have access to the stockpiles and which will therefore also have future prospects. However, it also meant that by the year 2005, 48,000 jobs would have to be shed and seven or eight pits would have to close. The number of pit closures would depend on developments in the world energy markets.

As a result of the negotiations, the federal authorities have increased their original medium-term budget [for coal restructuring]. Now, the sum available in the year 2005 will be 5.5 billion deutschmarks. In addition, restructuring grants have been extended up to the year 2005, and will total several hundred million marks per year, to be financed from federal funds and by the coal-producing states. Berger: Comparison with the 2 billion advocated by the Wiesheus, Teufels and Friedhoffs of this world [names of hard-line German politicians—Ed.] shows what we have achieved. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has also once again upped its contribution, and this state alone will be paying 1 billion marks from next year towards sales support and closure costs. This is an enormous effort by the North Rhine-Westphalian government, Berger said.

The workers in hard coal mining will also be facing major efforts and burdens, he stated. For us too, this result could not be achieved without cost. That is understood by everyone who recognises that we have not achieved our ideal model. We must continue to use our solidarity, ten thousand times over. We will have to share our jobs, with all that this implies. We'll now be sorting that out amongst ourselves. And ultimately the companies must abide by their pledge that there will be no dismissals.