Railway employees feel mocked by DB’s collective bargaining offer
As the first round of collective wage bargaining between unions and DB is ongoing, the two sides are yet to find common ground. DB made a first offer to union EVG, representing the bulk of railway workers in Germany, which, however, was perceived as “mocking”.
For the record, the negotiations between the transport union EVG and employers, including Deutsche Bahn, started on 28 February. With DB being Germany’s largest and state-owned employer regarding transport, it is customary to receive most of the requests during the bargaining period.
The first approach between EVG and DB had a negative outcome. EVG has a central demand from DB: a 650 euros salary raise for all employees or a 12 per cent increase over 12 months. After the initial talks, DB decided to discard this demand and did not provide a counteroffer, saying that “the demanded minimum of 650 euros would apply to 90 per cent of the DB workforce. Depending on the salary, this would correspond to a wage increase of well over 30 per cent”.
DB comes up with new offer
On 14 March, the two sides met for the second time to conclude the first round of negotiations. In DB’s words, the company made an offer to EVG that it would be “incomprehensible” to reject. Specifically, the state-owned company put the following proposals on paper:
- DB employees’ wages will increase by five per cent in two stages—three per cent from December 2023 and two per cent from August 2024.
- A bonus of 2,500 euros to cover increased living costs will also be distributed in two stages.
- A 13 euros per hour minimum wage for railway workers and an adjustment of regional differences noticed in employee compensations.
‘We are being mocked’
According to DB, the compensatory measures will correspond to “eleven per cent more money for employees in the next twelve months”. This percentage is not even close to EVG’s request–a twelve per cent increase over twelve months.
DB’s proposal reaches the eleven per cent increase, including the five per cent increase wage raise, the 2,500 euros bonus and the 13 euros minimum wage threshold. In response, EVG negotiators said that employees feel mocked by DB’s offer, which they characterised as offensive and unacceptable.
Kristian Loroch, one of EVG’s negotiators, stressed that “overall wages are only to rise by five per cent instead of twelve per cent, while the additional 650 euros per month, which is very important to the EVG, was not addressed at all. Instead, we were offered a one-off payment totalling 2,500 euros that DB knows we don’t want”.
In addition, Loroch also criticised the 13 euros minimum railway wage that DB put on the table. “On closer inspection, this turns out to be a sleight of hand since the hourly wage for the affected colleagues at the beginning of the actual collective bargaining in the wage table is still not the legally prescribed 12 euros”.