Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck has supported IG Metall in the discussion about reduced industrial electricity prices. It’s about keeping energy-intensive industries in Germany and shaping their ecological conversion, said the Green politician at the opening of the IG Metall trade union conference in Frankfurt.

DGB chairwoman Yasmin Fahimi had called for conditions to be attached to the so-called bridge electricity price for the chemical and steel industries, for example. “There is no money from the state without something in return. Our conditions are: collective wages, location and investment commitments.”

In addition to the unions, several industrial associations are also campaigning for a tax-financed discount on electricity prices, which is controversial in the traffic light coalition. While Economics Minister Habeck promotes it, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) rejects it. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has also made reserved or negative comments so far. He is expected at the IG Metall conference on Tuesday.

Praise for trade unionists

Habeck praised the metal workers for their social and operational commitment. “Strong unions mean a strong democracy,” said the Green politician. Forming a strong community is an important response to populism and an ideology of self-optimization that leads to isolation.

Habeck thanked the outgoing IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann for the cooperation. His designated successor Christiane Benner took a stand against anti-Semitism at the opening. IG Metall strongly condemns Hamas’ terrorist attacks, stands in solidarity with the people of Israel and mourns all civilian victims on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, said the second chairwoman, who on Monday became the first woman to be elected to the top of Germany’s largest union want.

Benner explained: “We want to strengthen democracy, in companies and in society.” She had previously described more participation as helpful in the fight against political radicalization.

Advice on 540 applications

The union conference takes place every four years and, with 421 delegates, is the highest decision-making body of the union with its more than 2.1 million members. Around 540 applications will be discussed up to and including Thursday.

According to the board’s fundamental proposal, it will, among other things, call for a 32-hour week, as is already being done in the steel industry. The union wants to attract skilled workers through a training guarantee for young people and more socially acceptable working conditions.

The entire board is re-elected at the union conference. The plan is to reduce the number of managing members from seven to five, for which the statutes would first have to be changed with a two-thirds majority.

In addition to Benner, Jürgen Kerner as second chairman (currently chief cashier) and the social politician Hans-Jürgen Urban from the previous board have been nominated. The Stuttgart representatives Nadine Boguslawski and Ralf Reinstädtler, who has previously headed the Homburg-Saarpfalz office, are running for the first time. The 45-year-old Boguslawski is scheduled to be the main cashier. There were initially no opposing candidates to this team of five.