No railway strike in Germany as of yet
There will likely be no railway strikes in Germany this week. Deutsche Bahn has returned to the negotiation table. Today, Monday 5 June, it is in talks with EVG and also GDL, another railway worker union and the presumed strike that could have hit the network on Monday did not take place.
The assurance that at least this week train traffic on the German railway network will not be sacrificed was echoed in German media. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the EVG wants to take into account the upcoming Evangelical Church Congress from 7-11 June 7 in Nuremberg, the Corpus Christi holiday on 11 June and the end of the Whitsun holidays in some federal states.
Threat of a strike
Last week, EVG threatened with nationwide strikes as negotiations with Deutsche Bahn (DB) reached a deadlock and the German railway company left the negotiation table, stating that it did not believe an agreement could be reached.
The strikes could happen on Monday and Tuesday, was the general assumption and the industry was gearing up for the consequences. The Pro Bahn passenger association had asked Deutsche Bahn to set up an emergency timetable, and manufacturing companies like Bahlsen said to stop work on Monday anticipating the restrictions on the network, as reported by the German site Focus Online.
What is planned this week?
Nevertheless, Monday morning was as any other morning on the railway network and this will remain for the rest of the week, if we are to believe the early signs of resumed negotiations. This does not mean that a strike is averted, the parties still need to come to a truce and this is all but a given judging from the three preceding round of talks, all without result.
What is different this time is that another party has joined the talks: GDP. This railway worker union is known as the main competitor of EVG and has accused EVG of being too moderate in its demands. In the current labour dispute it has formulated its own demands, which it will present today. EVG’s position may be impacted by this offer.
What happened last week?
Last week, EVG rejected Deutsche Bahn’s latest offer as being socially unfair. The proposed salary raise puts the lower wage staff at a disadvantage, it argued. Deutsche Bahn offered a wage increase plan structured along income groups. It offered a 12% linear wage increase for lower incomes, a 10% linear wage increase for middle earners and an 8% linear wage increase for higher incomes, all in two steps. It also offered an inflation compensation premium of 2,850 euros to be paid this year.
“It’s simply dishonest to constantly claim that a sensational 12% is being offered and that an agreement must therefore be possible. In fact, DB AG is not even offering 5% for the next twelve months”, said EVG, referring to the two-step structure.
Deutsche Bahn however considered the offer generous. “We are stretching ourselves enormously. This is a more than attractive and unprecedented package for our employees. Thanks to the triad, the offer has a very strong social component, which is exactly what the union is demanding. In addition, there is already the first increase in the table this year, and the inflation compensation premium will also come in full in 2023”, the railway company described the deal when offered.