Public service collective bargaining round: “Those were two lost days” – unions call on state employees to extend the strikes

State workers strike

Country negotiator Reinhold Hilbers (left) in conversation with protesting workers.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin After two unsuccessful rounds, the trade unions Verdi and DBB Beamtenbund and Tarifunion are calling for strikes in the collective bargaining for the approximately 1.1 million collective bargaining employees in the federal states.

“Those were two lost days, and if the finance ministers of the federal states carry on like this, they will drive the negotiations completely up against the wall,” said DBB boss Ulrich Silberbach after the two-day talks in Potsdam.

“Anyone who provokes strikes shouldn’t be surprised if they get them,” emphasized Verdi boss Frank Werneke. Therefore there will now be a noticeable expansion of industrial action. Werneke criticized the fact that the employers had not yet submitted an offer.

It had become apparent even before the negotiations began on October 8 that the collective bargaining round would be fraught with conflict. The collective bargaining association of German states (TdL), to which all federal states with the exception of Hesse belong, only wants to approve a collective bargaining agreement if the grouping of employees is also reorganized.

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The TdL chairman and Lower Saxony finance minister Reinhold Hilbers (CDU) explained in an interview with the Handelsblatt that only if Verdi and the Beamtenbund are willing to talk, one can also talk about special demands from the trade unions such as improvements for employees in the health professions.

Dispute over the classification of employees

However, the unions fear that state employees will be in a worse position and do not want to talk about the categorization. They are demanding an increase in income for employees by five percent, but at least 150 euros, with a term of twelve months.

Healthcare workers are to receive 300 euros more per month. Verdi and Beamtenbund are also calling for the training allowance to be increased by 100 euros and discussions about a collective agreement for student employees at universities.

DBB’s collective bargaining board member Volker Geyer accused the employers of stonewalling the demands on the health professions: “Instead of the repeatedly requested strengthening of care now finally being implemented at the negotiating table, the whole issue is coldly blocked, to the detriment of the employees and the patients . ”

In the past few days, the unions had backed up their demands with strike actions. Now there is a threat of an expansion of the labor dispute. The third round of negotiations is scheduled for November 27th and 28th.

In Hesse, a deal was already concluded in mid-October

In Hesse, which does not belong to the TdL, a deal was already concluded in mid-October. There, income for state employees will rise by 2.2 percent from August 2022 and a year later by a further 1.8 percent, but at least by 65 euros.

For the current and the coming year, the collective bargaining parties agreed on a tax and duty-free special payment of 500 euros each. The collective agreement runs for 28 months. The negotiations were also facilitated by the fact that the topic of classification was not so relevant for the Hessian state government.

The ongoing collective bargaining deals not only with the 1.1 million employees but also with civil servants and pension recipients in the federal states and municipalities to which the collective agreement is to be transferred. In total, more than three million people would be recorded.

Verdi is also negotiating for the IG Bauen-Agrar-Umwelt (IG BAU), the Education and Science Union (GEW) and the Police Union (GdP). TdL boss Hilbers had put the cost of union demands when transferring a degree to civil servants and retirees at 7.5 billion euros a year.

More: How the unions want to prevent a “rust belt” in Germany

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