German builders to strike in latest blow to troubled construction sector

BERLIN (Reuters) -The German construction sector faces its first nationwide strike since 2002 after employers rejected a deal on Friday that independent negotiators had hoped would solve their dispute over the wages of some 930,000 workers.

"Now we strike, massively," Robert Feiger, head of the IG BAU union, said in a statement.

Shortly before, employers had said they could not accept the arbitrated deal, which had been accepted by the union in late April.

Among other things, the deal proposed a raise of 250 euros per month from May 1, 2024, with a further increase on April 1, 2025, of 4.15% in western Germany and 4.95% in eastern Germany.

"Now it's not us, IG BAU, who are responsible for the strike, but the construction companies themselves," Feiger said, calling on them to explain to developers why housing, motorway and industrial construction projects would be delayed.

He did not give a indication of when the strikes would take place.

The employers' chief negotiator, Uwe Nostitz, spoke of "serious shortcomings" in the arbitrated proposal, such as inconsistencies in the remuneration of trainees who would have received less money in their second year than their first.

Germany's construction sector is already struggling with a rapid rise in interest rates and costs, putting an end to a years-long surge fuelled by low rates and strong demand.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Rachel More, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Andrey Sychev and Friederike Heine)