Transport: Offer rejected - rail tariff conflict comes to a head

In the collective bargaining dispute at Deutsche Bahn and the railway and transport union (EVG), the signs are pointing to confrontation.

Transport: Offer rejected - rail tariff conflict comes to a head

In the collective bargaining dispute at Deutsche Bahn and the railway and transport union (EVG), the signs are pointing to confrontation. The union has rejected a first offer from the group, as announced.

"We could not see the offer that was presented to us on Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m., and which comprises just two and a half A4 pages, as a basis for negotiations," said EVG negotiator Kristian Loroch after the meeting in Berlin. The collective bargaining talks resumed on Tuesday were therefore not continued and were postponed. As a precaution, Deutsche Bahn is preparing for warning strikes.

"It's hard to understand that you don't even enter into negotiations on the basis of this," said Bahn HR Director Martin Seiler, criticizing the union's move. "We are offering, and have also offered at the negotiating table, to continue the talks immediately." It is possible "that we will also achieve results here in a very short time," emphasized Seiler.

Railway offer

Among other things, Deutsche Bahn had offered to raise the wages of the approximately 180,000 affected railway employees by a total of 5 percent in two steps: in a first step by 3 percent from December of this year, in a second by 2 percent from August 2024. In addition, the group is planning two tax-free one-time payments of 1,500 euros in May and 1,000 euros in January of the coming year.

EVG generally rejects one-off payments. She demands at least 650 euros more wages. For the higher wages, she calls for an increase of twelve percent with a term of the collective agreement of twelve months. In addition, she demands structural changes in the collective agreements, such as an adjustment of the tariffs between East and West in some regions.

From the point of view of the union, the Deutsche Bahn offer also goes in the wrong direction when it comes to the minimum wage issue. For some of the workforce, the statutory minimum wage is not yet included in the tariff tables. In these cases, the railway pays him an allowance. The union had called for a minimum wage of twelve euros to be set in the tables before the talks about specific collective bargaining demands. Then the increases achieved in that round would relate to a higher base.

Deutsche Bahn now offers a minimum wage of 13 euros, but does not want to include this in the tables until August 2024. The union strictly rejects this.

warning strikes? Decision from March 23rd

The next negotiation meeting between Deutsche Bahn and EVG is scheduled for the end of April. There are around six weeks between them - so there is plenty of time for warning strikes. But the union does not want to make a decision on this until March 23. She is currently negotiating identical demands with 50 other railway companies in addition to the railway company. Only when the EVG has sat at the negotiating table with everyone at least once will a decision be made on how to proceed, emphasized Cosima Ingenschay. "Before the 23rd we will not say anything concrete about how things will continue."

A coordinated approach with the Verdi union is conceivable. This is currently negotiating more money for public sector employees. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for March 27th and 28th. Recently there had been speculation that joint warning strikes on the 27th could paralyze not only rail traffic but also large parts of local public transport.

"We are open to joint actions with Verdi," said EVG negotiator Loroch. "But we can't say for sure at the moment." The railways, in turn, are already taking appropriate precautions. "It shouldn't come as a surprise that we have to deal with the topic when we hear something like this from different sources," said personnel director Seiler. "Our passengers can expect the same from us."