EVG-DB: arbitration proposal welcomed, mega-strikes unlikely
The arbitration period between sector association EVG and DB seems to have a happy ending. EVG is willing to accept the proposals made during the consultation period between the two parties. Despite this being a compromise, as EVG negotiator Kristian Loroch explained, EVG’s Federal Executive Board approved the arbitration proposals, theoretically resulting in the avoidance of significant railway strikes in Germany from September on.
Of course, nothing is yet officially determined when it comes to strikes because the EVG members still need to go to the ballots and decide whether a strike is suitable after finding common ground with DB. EVG members will be able to vote and make a decision during August. The voting period will last the whole last summer month, and more than 100.000 members are expected to vote.
Some wins, some losses
It must be noted that the arbitration period between EVG and DB took place between 17 and 31 July and was headed by the politician Dr Thomas de Maizere from DB’s side and lawyer and politician Prof. Dr Heide Pfarr on EVG’s behalf. Generally, both parties should be content with the arbitration’s results since both won and lost at some points.
Loroch said that the main points of the arbitration’s proposals include: a pay increase of 410 euros for all workers. The increase will occur in two stages–one in December 2023 and one in August 2024. A one-time premium inflation compensation of 2.850 euros will be cashed out in October 2023. A structural pay increase for everyone which will result in an average of 100 euros more per month. A collective minimum wage for all workers. Inclusion of all workers in the collective bargaining agreement–so no division, but a single point of representation for everyone. Finally, the implementation term for the measures will be 25 months, meaning the next negotiations will be held in 20 months.
EVG did not succeed with the 450 euros wage increase that was pressuring for; however, the 410 euros solution is close to the initial request. Additionally, the inflation bonus is deemed very positive alongside the universal minimum wage for all workers; that was one of the negotiations’ burning points. The implementation period of 25 months is longer than what EVG would wish but still slightly shorter than what DB proposed (27 months).
What to expect?
As mentioned, EVG members still need to vote and determine whether the association will go on strike. However, such a scenario is quite unlikely, considering that EVG leaders are already working on accepting the proposals. The association’s chairman Martin Burkert commented that EVG’s board clearly voted in favour of the arbitration proposals, which “will bring significant improvements for a large part of the workforce.”
Nevertheless, he also mentioned that the association’s members “will vote for the final acceptance or going to indefinite strikes.” Yet, since EVG’s management is in favour of the resolution and the members will see certain benefits coming out of it, going on strikes is not a realistic option.
Consequently, a major railway strike now seems like a distant scenario, meaning that DB will be able to provide its freight and passenger services without disruptions in the coming autumn. At the same time, German and European supply chains will not suffer from an impairment. However, the arbitration solution also means more expenses for the DB Group, which is already struggling with its finances.