“At the moment the game is on who gets weak knees first”

“At the moment the game is on who gets weak knees first”

Warning strike in Munich

The trade unions are increasing the pressure in the collective bargaining dispute for the public sector.

(Photo: IMAGO/Eibner)

Berlin The chief negotiator for the municipal employers in the collective bargaining dispute for the public sector, Karin Welge, has warned the unions against excessive industrial action. “The strikes at the airports or in the day-care centers are a lever of power that the unions consciously use. But they have to be careful not to overly abuse democratic rights such as the right to strike.”

Otherwise, at some point, democracy would be damaged, said the mayor of Gelsenkirchen to the Handelsblatt. “At the moment it’s a game of who gets weak at the knees first. But I’ve been at it long enough to be able to handle the pressure.”

The boss of the union earnings, Frank Werneke, had previously emphasized the employees’ willingness to go on strike. “There will be no deal without a sufficiently high minimum amount,” he told strikers at a rally in Cologne on Tuesday.

Also have earnings and the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) have been invited to a joint press conference next Thursday. As the Reuters news agency reports, citing insiders, they want to stop traffic on March 27 with joint strikes at Deutsche Bahn and at airports Germany largely paralyzed.

Collective bargaining for around 2.5 million federal and local employees will enter the third round on Monday in Potsdam. Verdi and the civil servants’ association are demanding 10.5 percent more money for a twelve-month term, but at least 500 euros per month. Due to the minimum amount, the tariff demand even amounts to 15 percent on average.

The Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations (VKA) and Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faser (SPD) had in the second round a linear, two-stage increase in fees by a total of five percent plus 2500 euros inflation compensation money offered with a term of the collective agreement of 27 months.

Karen Welge

The Mayor of Gelsenkirchen conducts collective bargaining for the municipal employers.

(Photo: gkfoto Gerd Kaemper/ gkfoto )

In the collective bargaining dispute with Deutsche Bahn, the EVG is demanding twelve percent more money, but at least 650 euros a month for a period of twelve months. The previous offer of the state-owned company includes a five percent wage increase in two steps and 2500 euros inflation compensation premium for a term of 27 months.

In the public sector, the trade unions have started warning strikes in daycare centers, at the airports and in local transport the pressure is constantly increasing. VKA negotiator Welge criticized that the trade unions had long been certain, for reasons of recruiting members, that there should be a large wave of strikes before the agreed third round of negotiations, regardless of the actual status of the negotiations.

Verdi boss Werneke told the digital media company Table.Media that his union had gained more than 45,000 new members in the first two months of this year alone.

There are personnel problems above all with skilled workers, not in the lower wage groups

The VKA President, on the other hand, emphasized that, given the war in Ukraine and the difficult economic situation overall, it was not advisable to stir up even more uncertainty. The VKA calculates that meeting the demands of the trade unions would burden the municipalities with at least 15 billion euros. But that will pay off in the end: “Who benefits from it if the garbage collector has 50 euros more in his pocket at the end, but elementary areas of public services of the municipalities can no longer be financed?”




Verdi claims to have won in the first two months of 2023.

Above all, the municipal employers consider the minimum amount of 500 euros demanded by the unions, which brings disproportionate income increases to lower wage groups, to be wrong. “In the lower wage groups, we have far fewer problems recruiting staff than with skilled workers, who also have to take on more responsibility.”

Welge rules out the possibility that the federal government and local authorities will be divided in the coming round of negotiations because the federal government only has 134,000 employees and it could therefore be more willing to make concessions: “If the local authorities are overburdened financially, then at some point this will also affect the federal government .”

In this respect, it is also important for Interior Minister Faeser to agree on an appropriate collective bargaining agreement. This also applies because the unions demand that the final wage agreement be transferred one-to-one to the almost 550,000 civil servants and pensioners in the federal government.

In addition, the municipalities are united despite their very different financial starting points, emphasized the VKA President. “Because we are still proud of our collective wage agreement.”

More: Civil Servants Association boss Ulrich Silberbach on the 15 percent collective bargaining demand: “The cost of living has risen dramatically”

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