Next stage in the collective bargaining dispute for the public sector: After days of negotiations, the unions declare the talks to have failed. Can arbitration bring the solution?
Potsdam – Employers and unions negotiated for days in the third round – and yet there was no agreement for the 2.5 million federal and local employees. The employers announced early in the morning in the Potsdam negotiation hotel that they would convene the arbitration commission. The unions had previously declared the talks to have failed. Both sides were disappointed. How to proceed now:
How does the stratification work?
According to fixed rules and deadlines. From Sunday onwards there will be a peace obligation – warning strikes will then be ruled out until after Easter. The chairmen of the arbitration commission are the former Prime Minister of Saxony Georg Milbradt from the employers’ side and the former Bremen State Councilor Hans-Henning Lühr for the trade unions – Lühr with the decisive vote in case of doubt.
How can the arbitration end?
With an agreement – if both sides accept the arbitration award expected in mid-April. As the example of the most recent comprehensive strikes in the public sector shows, arbitration does not necessarily bring about a breakthrough. In 1992 an arbitrator’s verdict was not accepted – around ten days of widespread strikes followed.
What’s on the negotiating table?
The employers offered 8 percent more income and a minimum amount of 300 euros and a one-off payment of 3000 euros. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said that people could have been helped very quickly right now in May – after all, the costs are very high right now. “And I believe that it would have been in the interests of the employees to have a quick solution now.”
What do employers say about their actions?
Faeser referred to the responsibility that arises from the fact that no money was negotiated – but tax money, with which the income of the employees must be paid. The chief negotiator for the municipalities, Karin Welge, said: “Until shortly before midnight, we didn’t lose faith that we could bridge the gap.”
How did the unions react to the offer?
Verdi boss Werneke spoke of irreconcilable differences. The public employers are “not in a position to take the first step towards the employees and their unions in order to actually make a socially just degree possible”. The unions had demanded 10.5 percent more wages, but at least 500 euros more.
What else was negotiated?
Another aspect is the term – the unions demand 12 months. That’s not enough for employers. They initially offered 27 months. There was also intense debate about this. As it was said in negotiating circles, both sides were willing to compromise. The head of the civil servants’ association, Ulrich Silberbach, noted that concessions by the unions on the issue of the term were not enough in the end for an overall solution in view of the general position of the employers.
How is the willingness to go on strike today?
Whether bus drivers, nurses, educators, garbage and sewage workers, tram drivers or employees at airports – employees have shown a great desire to go on strike for months. In surveys, large parts of the population expressed understanding for them – and for the argument that many public servants tend to be underpaid. Verdi sees itself strengthened by the massive warning strikes of the past few weeks – and has recorded over 70,000 entries in the past three months. Verdi boss Werneke is also up for re-election at the federal congress of his union in September – then good wage agreements and successful mobilization count.
What makes the current collective bargaining dispute special?
“There’s real pressure on the boiler now,” said Werneke weeks ago. The country was already in the middle of the inflation and energy price crisis when Verdi and dbb presented their demands in October. But many municipalities also have empty coffers. They calculated that implementing the requirement would cost them 15.4 billion euros.
What is it about the unions?
Many employees, for example in day-care centers, swimming pools or garbage disposal, are currently only just getting paid, as was repeatedly heard in many interviews during the strikes. In January and February, too, consumer prices were 8.7 percent above the level of the same month last year. Now the conclusion is to compensate for the stubbornly high inflation and a real wage increase. Werneke described “a socially balanced collective agreement, a social component, a minimum amount” as “the most important thing for the employees”. dpa
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