JFor a long time, German trade unions did not have to pay much attention to the inflation rate. The price increases remained moderate on average and provided a reliable basis for calculation. Other factors were more important when deciding which wage demands to enter the race with: the economy and employment, productivity.
That has changed since the inflation rate recently jumped to almost 4 percent, possibly even reaching 5 in the fall. Is this really just a temporary phenomenon owed to special effects, as the majority of economists think? Decision-makers in companies are skeptical.
The belligerent public service unions are the first to consider major inflation risks before launching a major bargaining round. With the demand for 5 percent more salary, but at least 150 euros more per month for the employees of the federal states for twelve months, they have chosen an approach that is cautious for their circumstances. He suggests that Verdi and the Association of Officials are more inclined to believe that the inflation rate will soon calm down – and not want to expose themselves to the accusation of wanting to set a wage-price spiral going.
But of course the required 5 percent against the background of households in the deep red is far too much. The last country wage round before the pandemic started in 2019 with a good economy with a call for 6 percent. Now the coffers are empty. The upswing that is supposed to fill them has only just begun.
The well-secured public employees should take this into account. Private companies have to earn their wage and pension supplements on the market. If the collective agreement entails higher taxes and duties, it becomes more difficult. Strikes are also harmful.
Verdi and DBB should not follow the train drivers, but rather quickly show real willingness to negotiate and renounce. One element that would take account of the uncertainty would be, in addition to the short term, one-off payments depending on the economic development.