Constructive talks, but the biggest chunks are still waiting: According to information from both sides, the collective bargaining at Deutsche Bahn has come a step forward since Monday. The most important sticking points of wage increases and the duration of the collective agreement have not yet been discussed. "There is still a lot of potential for conflict, because the expectations of the colleagues are high - and with them the willingness to go on strike," said Kristian Lorch, negotiator for the railway and transport union EVG, on Wednesday, according to a statement.
Bahn HR director Martin Seiler was optimistic that a wage agreement could be reached this week. When asked about this, he said: "That must be our common goal." "Employees are rightly waiting for more money, and travelers now want to be able to plan their trips in the summertime, too," added the manager. Loroch also spoke of the goal of completing the job as quickly as possible - but for him that doesn't necessarily mean on Friday.
"We still have a few chunks to clear away"
The current round of negotiations between Bahn and EVG began on Monday in Berlin and is scheduled to last up to and including Friday. The EVG demands a fixed amount of at least 650 euros per month more for a good 180,000 DB employees or twelve percent for the upper wage groups. According to their ideas, the term should be twelve months.
Depending on the income group, Deutsche Bahn recently promised twelve, ten or eight percent more in several stages. The term should be 24 months - twice as long as required by the union. According to the DB offer, the first increase should come this year. In addition, there is a tax and duty-free inflation compensation premium in several payments totaling 2850 euros.
In addition to the salary increases, numerous structural issues in the complex collective bargaining system at Deutsche Bahn also play a role in the negotiations. According to Loroch and Seiler, the bus companies of Deutsche Bahn, the freight transport subsidiary DB Cargo and the group's internal service providers have been on the agenda in the past few days. For example, the EVG wants to abolish the regional differences in pay for the employees of the 18 bus companies.
The willingness to strike is apparently high
Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn is worried about the profitability and competitiveness of these companies with higher personnel costs. For example, last year DB Cargo made a loss before interest and taxes of 665 million euros.
"In various working groups, both the employer's issues and our demands were discussed and workable compromises were negotiated. However, there have not yet been any final agreements," said Loroch. "We still have a lot ahead of us, we still have a few chunks to clear away - and that's what it's all about in the next few days," said Seiler.
The wage conflict has been going on since the end of February. Since then there have been two warning strikes by the EVG, and a third labor dispute was just prevented after a legal agreement. The union has so far kept a low profile on further strike plans, only the willingness to strike within the organization has recently been emphasized several times. The interim balance from Wednesday does not yet mean an all-clear.