Trains, buses, ships and possibly planes again – the unions are flexing their muscles. At the beginning of next week, traffic could be paralyzed in large parts of Germany.
The warning strikes in traffic in Germany could reach a new peak just in time for the start of the next round of negotiations in the public sector. For days there have been speculations about a large-scale warning strike that could largely paralyze public transport next Monday (March 27). What is the status – what could the passengers expect?
What do the unions involved say?
Neither the railway and transport union (EVG) nor the Verdi union have so far confirmed joint warning strike plans. “If we do that, we will announce strikes in good time,” EVG Vice Cosima Ingenschay told “Bild am Sonntag”. This Thursday, Verdi and EVG are going public together – topic: “the respective current collective bargaining”, as they announced. On the same day, the first round of negotiations in the railway sector between the EVG and the railway companies ends.
Which areas could be affected?
Public transport on a large scale. In the area of electronic ballasts, long-distance rail transport is affected. And Verdi can strike local public transport in several countries – but not only. At the beginning of March, the union had largely paralyzed local public transport in six federal states and some cities – back then in close cooperation with the climate activists from Fridays for Future. But because municipal employees at airports were also out, tens of thousands of air passengers were also affected on several days. And on Wednesday, the port of Hamburg was also closed to large ships due to a strike.
Are warning strikes from two collective bargaining rounds unusual?
“This is an unusual thing,” said tariff expert Thorsten Schulten of the German Press Agency. If two unions find that they are negotiating in parallel in similar areas, a joint approach is obvious. A large warning strike at the start of a round of negotiations signals to the employers: “We mean business, and the employees are behind us.” However, a possible joint strike day could “first of all be a selective action,” as the researcher from the WSI institute of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade union, says. After all, there is no common planning authority for different trade unions.
Where are the negotiations at Deutsche Bahn?
EVG began negotiations with Deutsche Bahn and around 50 other railway companies at the end of February. The union had rejected a first offer from the state-owned company last week. She demands at least 650 euros more wages. In the case of higher wages, she is aiming for an increase of twelve percent with a term of the collective agreement of twelve months. Among other things, Deutsche Bahn had offered to raise the wages of the approximately 180,000 employees affected by a total of 5 percent in two steps and promised one-off payments totaling 2,500 euros.
What is the status of negotiations in the public sector?
All eyes are on Potsdam. In a tense situation, the third round of negotiations for the 2.5 million employees of the federal and local governments, scheduled for three days, begins here on Monday. Verdi and the civil servants’ association dbb are demanding 10.5 percent more income, but at least 500 euros more per month. So far, however, employers have only offered 5 percent in two steps and one-off payments totaling 2,500 euros – “an unreasonable demand” for the unions, as they say.
How willing are the unions to escalate?
Verdi boss Frank Werneke seems to see his union inspired by the many actions of the past few weeks – daycare centers, clinics and many other areas were also affected. “Spring is approaching and it may be that we will have to meet again here again,” he said at one of many rallies in Cologne. He had previously speculated about a possible failure. dbb boss Ulrich Silberbach said at a rally in Berlin on Wednesday: “Above all, the complete refusal of the municipalities to even consider a minimum amount stands in the way of any rapprochement.” As the collective bargaining expert Schulten explains, the peace obligation ended when the previous collective agreement expired. Legally, nothing stands in the way of warning strikes, even during the negotiations. The EVG has recently repeatedly emphasized its willingness to go on warning strikes as a “last resort”.
What scenarios are there?
In the public service, high inflation, difficult recruitment, but also the tense budgetary situation of many municipalities come together – collective bargaining expert Schulten says: “It’s a very acute distribution conflict”. He recalls the process at the post office: Here, the Verdi members had already voted in favor of an indefinite strike. But then another round of negotiations quickly followed – and an agreement was reached. Something like this is also conceivable in the public service. If there is no agreement in Potsdam next week, an attempt at arbitration would probably be made first, says Schulten.