EVG and Verdi paralyze the traffic: Together in the labor dispute
Et is Sunday evening when the big warning strike reaches the boss for the first time. At 9:38 p.m., Martin Burkert takes a quick look at his cell phone and discovers the photos of Bahn employees with orange vests and banners that have just been sent to him from the ICE plant in Hamburg: “Here we go,” murmurs the chairman of the Railway and Transport Union (EVG). He doesn’t say it triumphantly, but with a mixture of contentment and tension.
At the beginning of the 8 p.m. shift, hundreds of union members went on strike, when Burkert had long since arrived in Potsdam and had moved into the congress hotel where the union earnings will continue its negotiations for the public service with the federal and local governments for three days from this Monday. Verdi arrived there with 200 people, supported by Burkert, a retinue of EVG trade unionists and a whole series of protest events across the country.
According to Verdi, it is the largest strike that the republic has seen in the past 30 years: in local and long-distance public transport, in the motorway company, in daycare centers and schools, and in garbage collection. The unions in two different collective bargaining conflicts, as one would actually wish for the coalition leaders in Berlin to meet at the same time.
“Exaggerated and excessive strike”
She is talking about a “mega strike”. Deutsche Bahn. As a precaution, she shut down all long-distance traffic and, unlike usual, she did not draw up an emergency timetable. In view of the extent, this would not have made any sense either, the state-owned company argues.
Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss added again on Monday morning: “It is very strange that they are on strike today and are only ready to negotiate with us again in five weeks,” he said. Millions of passengers who rely on buses and trains are suffering from this “exaggerated and exaggerated strike”.
From the point of view of the trade union, however, it is the path that triggered the next escalation level with the shutdown. Some consider this to be an outright lockout. EVG boss Burkert does not find the strike disproportionate, but the management salaries at the railways: 2,100 euros for a cleaner, 2,400 for a customer service representative would be compared to a boss’s salary of more than 80,000 euros a month, the social democrat calculates. For cleaning staff, account managers and other professional groups, he now wants to push through 650 euros more salary per month.
In the public sector, the range of basic wages (without special payments and surcharges) ranges from 2016 euros per month for unskilled assistants to 7144 euros for senior managers with long years of service. There Verdi, like the DBB civil servants’ association, demands 500 euros more per month for all employees whose salaries are less than 4762 euros, and for the remaining 10.5 percent more.
Looking for a compromise
Despite the big strike, the negotiating leaders and committees of all trade unions and employers met in Potsdam this Monday with the aim of finding a compromise and thus a solution to the wage conflict in three-day talks. Verdi chairman Frank Werneke had also made it clear in advance that despite all the power to strike and all the pressure of expectations, he too was interested in a collective bargaining agreement this week.
The same applies to the DBB civil servants’ association – which is currently somewhat on the fringes of the public spotlight on the big double strike by Verdi and EVG. Although the DBB has also called on its members among public employees to go on strike, it is not taking part in the new strike cooperation.