Public service: breakthrough in the collective bargaining dispute

In the civil service collective bargaining conflict, the conflicting parties have agreed on a compromise. This provides for a three-stage increase in income. Criticism of the agreement came from the municipalities.

The collective bargaining conflict in the public service of the federal government and municipalities has been resolved. Employers and unions achieved a breakthrough in the negotiations for the approximately 2.3 million employees during the night.

According to Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and ver.di boss Frank Bsirske, the agreement includes wage increases of around 7.5 percent over the entire term of 30 months. "It’s the best result in many years," said Bsirske. There is particularly high growth in the areas in which the public service has the greatest personnel problems – such as with specialists and executives, technicians, engineers and IT specialists.

There are plans to increase wages in three stages up to 2020. From March 1, there will be an increase of just under 3.2 percent, in April 2019 just under 3.1 and in March 2020 in the third stage just under 1.1 percent.

The federal tariff commission of ver.di agreed to the compromise after the tariff commission of the civil servants ‘union dbb and the association of municipal employers’ associations (VKA) had given the green light.

7.5 billion euros in costs for the municipalities

Seehofer spoke of a noticeable wage increase for employees combined with structural improvements in wages. In order to make the public service more attractive, the starting salaries in all pay groups would be increased by ten percent by 2020.

The result will cost the federal government around 2.2 billion euros over the entire 30 months. According to the President of the municipal employers’ associations, Thomas Bohle, the deal will cost the municipalities 7.5 billion euros.

"I am satisfied, even if it was exhausting," said Seehofer, who acted as federal negotiator for the first time. At the same time, he announced that the agreement would be transferred to federal officials as usual.

Criticism from the municipalities

The representatives of the municipalities were less satisfied – they see the additional costs of 7.5 billion euros as a problem. The German Association of Cities described the collective bargaining agreement as "justifiable", but also noted that the additional spending was "difficult to cope with, especially for structurally weak cities with high social spending and deficits". The municipal budgets would be significantly burdened financially by the additional expenditure. Nevertheless, the compromise is right to allow public service employees to participate in the good economic development in Germany.

In view of the additional expenses, District Assembly President Reinhard Sager warned that one had to be careful that "we do not burden ourselves with an overly heavy mortgage for the coming years". The agreement goes "to the limit of what is possible".

Luneburg’s Lord Mayor Ulrich Madge also criticized the agreement. He told the NDR that the degree was "clearly too high. Many citizens will notice this in the fees". The municipalities would have to transfer the additional costs for the salaries of public sector employees to the fees – for example for garbage collection and street cleaning. "That’s what the law says and that’s how we will do it," said Madge. In his opinion, the higher burden also increases the pressure on cities and municipalities to restructure and outsource some areas.

Unions had asked for six percent more

The third round of collective bargaining began on Sunday. The unions had demanded six percent more income, but at least an increase of 200 euros. Above all, the minimum amount required by the unions for lower wage groups was considered problematic for employers.

Had in the past week massive warning strikes Among other things, parts of local transport in Germany were paralyzed and air traffic was disrupted.