DUISBURG/SALZGITTER (dpa-AFX) - The first warning strikes took place on Friday after the end of the peace obligation in the wage dispute in the north-west German steel industry. In Salzgitter, Lower Saxony, around 400 night shift workers took part in a two-hour action starting at midnight, as reported by IG Metall. In Finnentrop (NRW), around 40 employees stopped work at the same time. In Hagen, 60 union members came together on Friday morning. Warning strikes were also announced for Bottrop and Gelsenkirchen.

Trade unionists in Duisburg had already heralded the end of the peace obligation on Thursday evening with a torchlight march and the ringing of a hand bell. According to IG Metall, around 250 people took part. The march ended at a large sculpture on a landfill site.

Among other things, IG Metall is demanding a wage increase of 8.5 percent for employees in the north-west German iron and steel industry over a period of twelve months as well as a 32-hour week with full wage compensation. In the first round, the employers had offered an increase of 3.1 percent for 15 months. They rejected the demand for a reduction in working hours as "neither organizable nor financially viable". The second round also failed to bring about a rapprochement. A third round is planned for December 11.

Around 68,000 people are employed in the steel and iron industry in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Lower Saxony./tob/DP/mis