Tariffs: Tariff disputes in retail come to a head

The collective bargaining dispute in retail is coming to a head.

Tariffs: Tariff disputes in retail come to a head

The collective bargaining dispute in retail is coming to a head. In a letter available to the German Press Agency, the Bavarian retail trade threatened the Verdi union with claims for damages because of the recent warning strikes.

"The threat of claims for damages by companies is of course an escalation, but we also have to defend ourselves," said the managing director of the Bavarian association Bernd Ohlmann on Friday. "There are companies that have already suffered millions in damage from what we believe to be illegal warning strikes." Ohlmann was convinced that other regional associations will follow suit. Verdi dismissed the threat as insubstantial.

The German Trade Association, which coordinates collective bargaining for employers at the federal level, emphasized that the warning strikes were inadmissible in the eyes of the trade. "The strike is only exceptionally a permissible breach of contract when it comes to demands that the collective bargaining parties can regulate by way of the collective agreement."

After careful examination, the retail employers' associations came to the conclusion that the current strike measures in the retail sector did not meet these requirements. It is unacceptable that the union wants to use industrial action against companies that are already bound by collective agreements to force the joint application for the collective agreement to be generally binding.

Verdi: Writing has "no substance whatsoever"

Ohlmann emphasized that if only one demand during a warning strike is inadmissible, the entire warning strike is illegal and the companies on strike are threatened with lawsuits. To prevent this, Verdi would have to adjust the demands.

Verdi's negotiator in the collective bargaining talks on retail, Hubert Thiermeyer, emphasized that the letter had "no substance whatsoever, we will not adjust the demands." There has already been a lawsuit on the subject in North Rhine-Westphalia. "The labor court ruled in our favor there."

For Thiermeyer, the letter is an indication that the strike measures are having an effect. "The easiest way to end strikes is to move through collective bargaining," he said.

"For the employees, it is an existential demand. They tend to be in the lower income brackets - that's why the sharp price increases in the food sector hit them disproportionately. The strike measures are the only way they can draw attention to their situation and put pressure on it," said Thiermeyer. In his words, the demand for a general obligation is intended to prevent "collective bargaining with dumping wages".

A spokeswoman for the NRW trade association explained that the most populous federal state shares the legal opinion of the Bavarian colleagues. Nevertheless, one will not follow her step for the time being.