Union vs. employer: Collective bargaining round for retail again without agreement

The last attempt this year did not result in an agreement in the retail tariff dispute.

Union vs. employer: Collective bargaining round for retail again without agreement

The last attempt this year did not result in an agreement in the retail tariff dispute. During negotiations in Hamburg, the Verdi union and the North Trade Association were unable to agree on a regional collective bargaining agreement for the state district, as both sides announced. According to the German Trade Association (HDE), the talks failed “again because of the union’s exaggerated ideas”. "The employers will now meet at the beginning of the year and discuss the consequences."

Verdi accused the other side of not having improved their previous offer. "The employers haven't moved, that means a loss of real wages for the employees, we won't do that," said the union.

Rated üt Critical

Among other things, Verdi is demanding at least 2.50 euros more per hour in retail in all regions for a term of one year. Depending on the federal state, there are additional requirements. The employers recently offered a tariff increase of a total of 10.24 percent for a period of 24 months. In addition, the offer included an inflation compensation bonus of 750 euros and a minimum wage according to the collective agreement.

“For a saleswoman, this is an increase in her hourly wage of 1.04 euros compared to 2023,” criticized Silke Zimmer from the Verdi federal executive board. "Based on a term of two years, just 1.78 euros. That's not even half of what the employees are demanding to make ends meet during the crisis."

Solution far away

After a several-week interruption in negotiations at the regional level in November, the collective bargaining parties in the Hanseatic city met again for talks for the first time. A conclusion could also have served as a blueprint in the other 13 tariff areas. A solution to the collective bargaining dispute has now become a long way off.

The talks initially started promisingly on Thursday. Both sides sat together for hours, and negotiating circles expressed confidence. But then it turned out that they hadn't found each other.

More than 60 rounds of collective bargaining without results

The tariff dispute in retail has now lasted more than eight months. In a total of more than 60 rounds of negotiations, no agreement has been reached anywhere. Verdi tried to increase the pressure on employers with numerous warning strikes. However, consumers have hardly felt the conflict so far, as supermarkets generally do not have to close despite the labor disputes. Sometimes it takes a little longer at the checkouts. Sometimes some products are missing from the shelves.

In November, the HDE intervened in the conflict and canceled all further negotiations at the regional level. Instead, a solution should be sought in a top-level discussion with the Verdi federal executive board. Both sides simply agreed that negotiations should continue in the tariff areas.

“Absolute financial pain threshold”

The first round after the week-long break in talks did not lead to success in Hamburg either. Verdi had hoped that employers would increase their offer again. They emphasized that they had already “reached the absolute financial pain threshold” with this offer.

It is unclear whether the offer will still exist next year. The employers had only guaranteed it until the end of 2023. In view of different economic conditions and declining inflation, the HDE announced that in the new year they would like to “discuss new solutions”. “This is also urgently needed in view of the ongoing consumer restraint,” said HDE tariff managing director Steven Haarke.