Tension is rising across the Rhine around wage negotiations in private and public services, in a conflict that could turn in favor of employees. On Saturday March 11, the management of the German post office granted an average salary increase of 11.5% in extremis, in order to avoid the indefinite strike threatened by the Verdi services union.
This victory of the employees should fuel the strike movement that the country is currently experiencing: Tuesday March 14 and Wednesday March 15, it is the employees of hospitals, care establishments for the elderly and emergency services who are called to stop work. .
In the conflict with Deutsche Post, a private company listed but 20% owned by the public bank KfW, Verdi took the threats of work stoppages unusually far. The coup has borne fruit: after discussions described as“extremely difficult” by the company, the 160,000 employees of the group obtained tax-free payments of a total of 3,000 euros, in addition to a salary increase of 340 euros from April 2024, which corresponds to increases of 11% to 16% for the lowest salaries.
This type of agreement could become widespread, while several service sectors are toughening their stance against employers. In the public service, which has 2.5 million civil servants or employees of municipal services, the unions are demanding a 10.50% increase, and a minimum increase of 500 euros per month for the lowest salaries. The last negotiation, held on February 23, ended in failure.
The municipalities and the federal state offered a plus of 5% in total, with two single payments of 1,000 and 1,500 euros. Too little, retorted the unions, who argue that the total loss of purchasing power of employees due to inflation has amounted to 11% since 2021.
In response, disruptions have multiplied in recent weeks in services: on March 3, many local transport workers went on strike, in collective action with the climate activist movement Fridays for Future.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, it was the educators of nurseries, kindergartens and social services who in turn stopped work throughout Germany. In several cities, trash cans are piling up following disruptions to garbage collection services. And in air transport, strikes by security guards affected several airports in the country, including that of Berlin, where all flights were canceled during the day on Monday March 13.
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