In the collective bargaining dispute over the wages of dockworkers at Germany’s seaports, there is movement. The Verdi union and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) want to meet for another meeting on Monday, as both parties independently confirmed to the German Press Agency. Neither of them initially gave a location or an exact time. They also did not comment on possible content. “Of course we are open to talks, but we don’t want to anticipate the content of the conversation (…),” said ZDS. With a view to possible content, Verdi explained that they wanted to wait and see how the negotiations went on Monday.
Last Thursday, port workers largely paralyzed the handling of container and cargo ships in Germany’s major North Sea ports with a 24-hour warning strike at the beginning of the early shift. The ports of Hamburg, Emden, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Brake and Wilhelmshaven were affected. It was the second warning strike in three weeks. Before that, there were no work stoppages among dockers for many years.
After the warning strike, it was initially unclear how the collective bargaining dispute for the approximately 12,000 employees in the 58 collective bargaining companies in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Bremen could continue. Verdi demanded a fifth round of negotiations, the ZDS, on the other hand, wanted to start a mediation process and recently described its offer as “final”.
At its core, the dispute is about inflation compensation. Verdi and the ZDS are no longer so far apart when it comes to classic wage negotiations. With a tariff term of 12 months, Verdi is demanding an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros and in full container operations an increase in the annual allowance of 1200 euros. With a tariff term of 18 months, the ZDS accepts an increase in hourly wages of 1.20 euros – in car handling by 90 cents – and also agrees to an increase in the allowance of 1200 euros.
To compensate for inflation, the ZDS offers a one-time payment of 1000 euros in full container companies and 500 euros in conventional companies – which the Verdi union is not enough. In May, inflation in Germany was 7.9 percent.