Wage policy: inflation exacerbates wage disputes

Dhe accelerated rise in the price level hits consumers when shopping – but it also makes the work of wage and collective bargaining politicians difficult. This week Claus Weselsky, Chairman of the Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL), gave testimony to this: “We are calling for a 1.4 percent wage increase in 2021, with 3.8 percent inflation. That is supposed to be an exaggerated requirement? ”So he defended his position and added: Even if the railway fully fulfills this requirement, the employees will actually get a“ full minus round ”.

The objection is put into perspective a little with the 600 euro corona premium, which is also included in the GDL claims package. With an annual salary of 40,000 euros, that would be an increase of another 1.5 percent – at least for 2021. But if inflation stayed at 4 percent or more for a longer period of time, it would actually be difficult to secure the purchasing power of the train drivers and their colleagues with these demands.

Pressure on unions is increasing

Even if the current wave of strikes is fading at the railways, this shows a new problem that will soon burden many collective bargaining disputes: With inflation, the pressure of employees on the unions to get more wage percentages increases. But the economic situation of many companies does not make this easy after the upheavals of the pandemic. And that is even more true of the state. As is well known, since Corona he has been deeper in the red with his own coffers than it has been for a long time.

The next big collective bargaining dispute, which begins this Thursday, is aimed at precisely these funds: The Verdi union and the DBB Beamtenbund are resolving their new salary claims for a good 1.1 million employees in the public sector in the federal states. Indirectly, it should also go to the income of more than two million civil servants and retirees in the state service. Although these are regulated by law, they are based on the collective bargaining agreements. It will be the first major collective bargaining round in which the unions are already resolving their demands against the background of the significantly accelerated inflation.

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The fundamental point of view of Verdi was made clear by its deputy chairman Andrea Kocsis at the end of July, after the Federal Statistical Office announced the jump in the inflation rate to 3.8 percent: “We need strong wage increases for employees, especially because of the rising prices,” she said. “Verdi will therefore continue its offensive wage policy in the industries.” And this offensive attitude will probably be fueled on Monday: Then the statisticians will provide the inflation figure for August.

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