The collective bargaining negotiations for the approximately 430,000 commercial employees began yesterday morning. The union is demanding an increase in salaries of eleven percent. From October 2022 to September 2023, inflation was 9.2 percent.
There was no rapprochement in the first round: after the talks ended, the union called for works meetings between November 2nd and 8th. Negotiations are scheduled to continue on November 9th.
It’s about “a fair and permanent increase in salaries,” said Helga Fichtinger, chief trade union negotiator at the GPA. In addition, they want more vacation days for employees: Instead of making it easier to access the sixth week of vacation, the union is calling for permanent “free days.”
After the first round, the union described the employers’ behavior as “completely incomprehensible” and said they were outraged: “It was an attempt to break previous rules of the game and dictate one-sided conditions.”
“To say the least, I am irritated by the lack of reality that dominated the round of negotiations. The employee representatives seem to completely negate the extremely difficult situation that domestic trading companies find themselves in,” said Rainer Trefelik, chairman of the trade division at the Chamber of Commerce. The union should “move away from the economically unrealizable demands” by the next negotiation date. A significant increase in salaries while reducing working hours is not conceivable. The union can only imagine a one-off payment like the one offered in 2022 as an additional bonus. Last year, salaries were increased by an average of 7.3 percent after five rounds and a strike threat.
End of the Benya formula?
The third round of negotiations for the metallers was broken off on Friday. The chief negotiator of the Pro-Ge union, Reinhold Binder, had strong words for the employers’ offer of 2.5 percent: “The one-off payments can go to shit.”
Negotiations are taking place between the trade unions and the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Association (IV) “traditionally does not want to get involved,” said General Secretary Christoph Neumayer: The difficult situation requires creative and flexible solutions, the IV failed to provide any details. Applying the Benya formula, according to which the wage increase should be made up of the inflation rate and the share of the increase in productivity, was not done this year.