Garages caught in the price trap

Businesses are looking for ways out of the collective agreement -- many consider leaving the guild

Munich. Many German repair workshop operators may cancel their membership in the guild to get out of the collective agreement.

Dealers and garage owners primarily want to reduce the number of holidays for staff to the legal 24 days. According to the contract, employees get 30 days.

The umbrella organization for the German automobile trade associationZDK is worried about the developments. "Leaving the guild is the wrong way," ZDK spokesman Helmut Bluemer said.

He also said that the current collective agreement leaves enough flexibility to react to changes in the market. Bluemer said, "However, only a minority of businesses know about the possibilities they have."

The number of businesses that have quit the guild has not been established. "But everyone talks about this subject," said Gerhard Hoesel of the ZDK in Lower Saxony. He does not see a reason to act immediately as in Lower Saxony the collective contract will expire in 2006. And on top of that, the collective agreement is still valid even after leaving the guild.

Wilhelm Winter of ZDK in Nordrhein-Westfalen noticed that primarily larger businesses that have expanded want to reduce their staff costs and find a way out of the contract.

The Augsburg-Schwaben guild has already reacted. Managing director Petra Brandl said: "We are trying to take countermeasures and that is why we founded the 'Schwaben-Mobil' association." This should provide an alternative to a guild membership.

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