Wages: Collective bargaining in the public sector continues

In the collective bargaining conflict in the public sector, unions and employers will meet again on Saturday for talks.

Wages: Collective bargaining in the public sector continues

In the collective bargaining conflict in the public sector, unions and employers will meet again on Saturday for talks. Whether a compromise can be reached remains to be seen. Before the start of the fourth round of negotiations in Potsdam, the head of the civil servants' association dbb, Ulrich Silberbach, warned against too much optimism.

"The arbitration recommendation is a basis for further negotiations. But it is far from the solution. We definitely still need to talk," said Silberbach of the German Press Agency. "The individual points and proposals will be discussed.".

He rates it positively that the arbitration recommendation has also been accepted by a clear majority on the employers' side. "You can definitely see a sign of hope in that. So we are expecting constructive and agreement-oriented talks in Potsdam today. Then we could close the sack today," said Silberbach. "Otherwise the negotiations will end here and we will face ballot voting and industrial action."

Union ballot possible

The arbitration recommendation published a week ago initially provides for tax and duty-free special payments of 3,000 euros in several stages. From March 2024 there will then be a base amount of 200 euros and then a wage increase of 5.5 percent. If no increase of 340 euros is achieved, the relevant increase amount should be set to this sum.

If there is no breakthrough in Potsdam, a vote by the trade unions could follow, as mentioned by Silberbach. But if both sides achieve a result, new strikes would be off the table. In the past few months, the unions had partially paralyzed public transport, but also daycare centers, clinics and garbage disposal with massive warning strikes.

Verdi boss Frank Werneke was cautious in advance. "On Saturday we are facing the decisive round in the public service of the federal and local governments. The unions are very serious about the negotiations," he told the German Press Agency.

Educators, bus drivers, firefighters and many more

For months, both sides have been wrangling over the income of 2.5 million federal and local employees. Verdi and the civil servants' association dbb had declared the third round of negotiations at the end of March to have failed. The federal negotiator, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, and the municipal negotiator, Gelsenkirchen's Mayor Karin Welge (both SPD), left the talks disappointed.

"I very much regret that the unions have now broken off the negotiations," said Faeser at the time. The employers then called arbitration, hoping for a solution.

Members of a number of professions are affected by the collective bargaining in the public sector - including women and men who work as educators, bus drivers, employees of public baths, firefighters, nurses and geriatric nurses, administrative employees, 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.

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