The positions are far apart: ver.di is demanding 15 percent more money for postal workers, which the group rejects as unrealistic. Now new negotiations between the parties to the collective bargaining agreement have begun.
The third round of negotiations in the collective bargaining dispute at Deutsche Post has begun. Representatives of the group and the trade union ver.di came together for two-day talks in Düsseldorf. After the previous talks had failed, ver.di called for Germany-wide strikes; Millions of packages and letters were delayed.
At the start of the negotiations, Deutsche Post wanted to submit an initial offer. But that should still be a long way from the demands of ver.di: It is fighting for 15 percent more money for the 160,000 employees – and that for a period of just twelve months.
“Still a long way”
Both sides are still far apart, as Post Human Resources Director Thomas Ogilvie conceded. “We go into the round with the expectation that we will ultimately succeed in finding a result that will balance the interests of the company, but also the interests of the employees.” There is still a long way to go, “but if both sides move towards each other, it will succeed,” said Ogilvie.
One of the questions, however, is how far the union can deviate from its ideas. ver.di negotiator Andrea Kocsis described the 15 percent requirement as realistic, also in view of the recent record profits at the post office. With the last collective bargaining agreement, postal workers received more money in two steps – most recently at the beginning of last year another two percent.
Does the employer compensate for real wage losses?
However, that was more than swallowed up by inflation, and there was inflation again this year, according to Kocsis. For the employees, this means real wage losses that they cannot accept, “because we have a lot of employees who are in very low pay groups,” says Kocsis, justifying the wage demand. “And it is also recognized that those who have little money at their disposal find it much more difficult to cope with inflation,” said the trade unionist.
That’s why postal workers all over Germany followed the union’s call for a strike – to send a clear signal to the company: We’re already struggling anyway – so we’re fighting for more money now.
He understands that, says HR director Ogilvie at the Bonn Post headquarters. But it is not the task of companies to automatically compensate for the real wage losses of employees. “Instead, we have to see how we can manage the triad in the end: both to offer secure jobs in the long term, good working conditions, and that means that we have to invest in the business and also in the transformation of our business.” This includes the group enabling wage increases to a realistic extent. “It’s our job as entrepreneurs to get this triad right, and that won’t work with 15 percent,” says Ogilvie.
“The people are clearly behind it”
However, it is also clear that Swiss Post employees should not be satisfied with one or two percentage points more than usual. The ver.di demand was developed in the company together with the employees, says the deputy ver.di boss Kocsis. “We did it with a large member survey. It wasn’t invented by anyone, but the people are clearly behind it.” Employees knew that collective bargaining rarely resulted in what was demanded. “But they expect a very significant wage increase.”
So that could be, for example, at least a double-digit increase of ten point X percent. It is questionable whether Swiss Post can and wants to go that far. Nevertheless, both sides are optimistic that an agreement in the third round may be possible. However, if the talks fail, the collective bargaining commission could call on union members to hold a ballot. The result would then probably be an indefinite labor dispute with longer strikes.
After the strikes, the third collective bargaining round begins at Deutsche Post
Jörg Sauerwein, February 8, 2023 2:27 p.m