Economy & Politics

Unions are demanding 4.8 percent more wages

Bus drivers, daycare educators and Co. should get more money – despite or because of the Corona crisis. Photo: dpa / Fabian Sommer

Collective bargaining disputes under Corona conditions: trade unions and employers are apparently irreconcilable in the income round for the public service. Is there a wave of warning strikes coming?

Berlin – Kindergarten teachers, garbage collectors, bus drivers and airport employees should get 4.8 percent more wages according to the will of the unions. Small incomes should increase by at least 150 euros. This is what Verdi and the dbb official association are calling for before the collective bargaining for the approximately 2.5 million public sector employees of the federal and local governments, as they announced on Tuesday in Berlin.

Difficult discussions are already becoming apparent a week before the start of collective bargaining. The municipal employers had already emphasized in advance that there was no scope for distribution. The negotiator, Lüneburg’s Lord Mayor Ulrich Mädge (SPD), had said that there should actually be cuts. The municipalities also see themselves under particular pressure this year as a result of the corona pandemic. According to Verdi, implementing the demands would cost around six billion euros.

Verdi boss Frank Werneke said: “The corona pandemic shows: the public service and its employees hold the country together.” The municipal demand for a zero round meets with complete incomprehension, also in view of the loud public applause for nurses, paramedics and others during the corona lockdown.

“After the public clapping, the clapping came from the municipal employers,” said the chairman of dbb beamtenbund and tarifunion, Ulrich Silberbach. The chairwoman of the education and science union, Marlis Tepe, said, for example, kindergarten teachers had provided emergency services to ensure that many parents could do their jobs.

Further demands

The term should be twelve months. The training allowances and internship payments are to increase by 100 euros per month. What is called for is the reduction of working hours in the east by one hour to 39 hours as in the west. For health care and nursing, special improvements are to be achieved “at a separate negotiating table”.


The claims concern 2.3 million employees. According to the unions, the result should be transferred to the more than 200,000 civil servants.

Economic arguments of the trade unions

Event management, tourism and air traffic are still in a difficult situation, Werneke admitted. In other industries, however, incoming orders and sales showed that the situation was already significantly better. All in all, there is definitely something to distribute. “If there is to be an upswing in Germany, then the domestic market will play a special role,” said Werneke.

Arguments for public service

“The public service still has problems with young talent,” said Werneke. Silberbach said, citing employer information: “More than 800,000 positions could be vacant in the foreseeable future.” The bottom line is that the municipalities are not that badly positioned financially.


Strikes cannot be ruled out, but mass demonstrations to protect against infection are considered difficult. “If the municipal employers believe that the employees will not defend themselves in the Corona situation, then they were mistaken,” said Werneke. Even before the latest collective bargaining round for the federal and local governments in 2018, massive warning strikes by 220,000 employees had paralyzed parts of local transport and disrupted air traffic. In April 2018, employers and unions had agreed a total of 7.5 percent more money by March 2020.


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