The railways are also threatened with strikes
DThe railway and transport union (EVG) has a record-breaking demand for the forthcoming collective bargaining with Deutsche Bahn and around 50 other railway companies. She demands 12 percent more wages for the upper salary brackets and a minimum amount of 650 euros per month as a “social component”. For employees with a monthly salary of around 2,000 euros, this would even mean wage increases of more than 30 percent. This was unanimously decided by the union’s wage committee on Tuesday in Fulda. 325 euros are required for the junior staff. The reason for the high demands are the increased consumer prices. Inflation last year was 8 percent.
During the extensive collective bargaining, which starts on February 28, the union is stepping up the pace: “We don’t have time for collective bargaining folklore,” said the co-negotiator of the EVG, Cosima Ingenschay, and was thus aiming at the usual customs of employers in the to complain about their own economic situation in the first round of negotiations. In union circles, this is called the “handkerchief round” – which is to be dispensed with this time: “We want to see a serious offer.”
“Very hot spring”
So far, the seriousness of some employers has not yet been recognized, added co-negotiator Kristian Loroch. “Apparently you don’t yet know what the hour has come.” If there is still no offer in the first round of negotiations, the signs will appear for the first time at the end of March strike. In most federal states, the school holidays begin at the beginning of April. EVG boss Martin Burkert has promised a “very heated spring”.
This means that there is a risk of standstill in many public areas, since difficult wage negotiations are also currently underway in the federal and local public services. With its ideas, the EVG is above the demands that Verdi raises for the public service at the federal and local level. Here are 10.5 percent, but at least 500 euros on the slip. The current strike at Deutsche Post, which was extended again on Tuesday, provides a foretaste of the intensity of the labor disputes, which are now breaking out under the impression of strong inflation. Verdi is asking Swiss Post for a 15 percent increase in salary. The warning strikes are met with understanding among the population: According to a survey by the opinion research institute Yougov, half of the people in Germany consider the warning strike at the post office to be justified. However, 34 percent said they did not understand. Unlike Deutsche Post, however, Deutsche Bahn has a much weaker starting point: after the loss-making Corona years, it was only able to recover from the drastic slump in customer numbers last year.
The parallelism of the collective bargaining plays into the hands of the EVG. “As employees, we would be ill-advised if we didn’t use the synergies,” said Loroch. They will coordinate with the Verdi services union to increase the clout of the labor disputes.
However, this is not the only peculiarity of the current wage negotiations. What is also new is that the EVG is negotiating jointly with all railway companies in Germany for the first time, including many private providers that are significantly smaller than the state-owned Deutsche Bahn. In addition to the specific wage demands that apply to everyone, the EVG is also developing a specific catalog of demands for each individual company. This makes the negotiations for the union very time-consuming and lengthy; it also increases the risk of industrial action because the EDC is willing to strike all companies if negotiations with an employer stall.
reluctance to train
Deutsche Bahn was still cautious on Tuesday. You are now aware of the general wage requirements, but the DB-specific requirements are not yet available. “For Deutsche Bahn it is clear: we need a reasonable balance,” emphasized a company spokesman. “It’s about recognizing the performance of our workforce and about securing the future viability of Deutsche Bahn.”
The shortage of skilled workers is likely to bring particular momentum to the negotiations. “The fluctuation is frightening,” said tariff board member Loroch. That also has something to do with the payment. “If we don’t succeed in recruiting a large number of new employees as quickly as possible, even more trains will be canceled in the future.”
Meanwhile, there was good news from Berlin Airport. Employers and the union reached a collective agreement there on Tuesday. The almost 2,000 employees of Swissport, Airline Assistance Switzerland and WISAG get up to 20 percent more. Verdi emphasized that the significant tariff increases are necessary in order to make jobs with ground handling service providers more attractive again.