In Germany, trade unions are only allowed to strike for wage increases after the expiration of an existing tariff agreement. Also, their right to strike is limited towards companies, who are a member of the employers' association that is party to the expiring tariff agreement. As unions cannot agree on the extension or an amendment to an expiring tariff agreement with companies that are not member of the employers' association, which is a party of such tariff agreement, a strike against these companies, in context of the expiring tariff agreement, is unlawful. The same applies, if a company remained in the employers' association, but changed its status to an extraordinary membership without commitment to tariff agreements.

The German Federal Court now decided that an employer may claim for compensation for damages he faced due to a strike, if the employer informed the trade union about the change to an extraordinary membership without commitment to tariff agreements within the employers' association and the trade union nevertheless called on a strike at the employer's plant.

Written with Lydia Bruecklmeier, Associate at Norton Rose LLP, Munich.

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