Collective bargaining for the public sector at federal and local level has failed. Employers and unions did not reach a result in the last of three planned rounds of negotiations. Now independent arbitrators should look for a solution. During the arbitration period, there is a peace obligation - so there will be no new strikes in the public sector over the Easter days.
"In the end we had to realize that the differences could not be bridged," said Verdi boss Frank Werneke early Thursday morning in Potsdam. Verdi explained the failure of the negotiations. The trade union bodies had decided this unanimously. The head of the civil servants' association dbb, Ulrich Silberbach, also expressed his views on behalf of his union.
Shortly thereafter, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) announced: "We will now convene the arbitration." Faeser and the municipal negotiator, Karin Welge, regretted that the unions had declared failure. The employers would have offered eight percent more income and a minimum amount of 300 euros and a one-off payment of 3000 euros.
Arbitration follows a set procedure with deadlines. A commission has until mid-April to present a settlement proposal for the income of the 2.5 million federal and local employees. The chairmen of the committee are the former Prime Minister of Saxony Georg Milbradt for the employers and the former Bremen State Councilor Hans-Henning Lühr for the trade unions, with Lühr having the decisive vote. The parties to the agreement then negotiate again.
Since Monday, unions and employers in Potsdam have been arguing in their third round of negotiations about the incomes of 2.5 million employees. Discussions between the negotiating leaders and consultations between the individual collective bargaining partners kept changing. There was a lot of internal clarification needed at the Association of Municipal Employers' Associations (VKA).
The Verdi union and the civil servants' association dbb are demanding 10.5 percent more income, but at least 500 euros more per month. This minimum amount is key for them: for those on low incomes, it is intended to compensate for the high inflation.
The VKA had long rejected a minimum amount. The employers had also rejected the demands as a whole as unaffordable. The trade unions were outraged by the employers' attitude and have organized increasingly large warning strikes in recent weeks. They paralyzed public transport, but also daycare centers, clinics and garbage disposal with massive warning strikes.
Verdi sees itself strengthened by the work stoppages of the past few weeks. Verdi boss Frank Werneke spoke of the “largest warning strike participation for many years and decades”. The union recorded more than 70,000 entries in the past three months.
Members of a number of professions are affected by the collective bargaining in the public sector - including educators, bus drivers, employees of public baths, firefighters, nurses, administrative employees, geriatric nurses, sewage treatment plant employees, foresters and doctors. It is about the income of more than 2.4 million employees of the municipal employers and 134,000 of the federal government. According to the will of the trade unions, the result should be transferred to the civil servants.