The German NGG union, which represents many chocolate industry workers in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has agreed to meet employer representatives for talks next week. The move comes after workers voted earlier this week to strike over pay.
Any strike could involve as many as 13,700 chocolate industry workers located in the central German state.
The NGG union claims that 87 per cent of its members have voted in support of strike action. The union is demanding a 4.5 per cent pay claim but says it will seek further talks with employers before any industrial action is taken.
"A strike is always the last instrument for the union in a pay dispute," said NGG regional head Thomas Gauger in a statement released earlier today. "This is why we have not rejected talks."
Reuters news agency reported that Klaus Doerflinger, head of the BDSI confectionery industry association, is hopeful that a strike can be averted. However, Doerflinger has insisted that the 2.4 per cent pay rise offered by employers was already more than conditions in the industry allowed.
North Rhine-Westphalia includes the Ruhr industrial region, home to a large section of Germany's chocolate industry. Companies that could be affected by any strike include Griesson de Beukelaer, Kinkartz, Lambertz, Intersnack and Lindt, a unit of Swiss confectionery group Lindt & Spruengli.
In June, confectionery workers in Lower Saxony and Bremen workers settled for a 2.55 per cent increase. It remains to be seen whether workers in North Rhine-Westphalia will be willing to accept a similar offer.