German union, employers reach wage deal following strikes

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's biggest industrial union and employers have reached a deal on wages and working hours, ending a dispute that led to a series of 24-hour walkouts last week.

The IG Metall union and employers in southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg state, one of Germany's industrial heartlands, agreed early Tuesday on a 4.3 percent wage rise starting April 1. Agreements reached in one region are typically applied across the whole country and some 3.9 million industrial workers.

The deal also involves the possibility of more flexible working hours. Employees will get the right to reduce their weekly working hours to 28 hours for up to two years, a union demand, while employers will be able to put more workers than before on longer 40-hour weeks. The deal runs through March 2020.