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Verdi and EVG unions want to show their strength on Monday. In doing so, they largely blocked traffic in Germany. Is the belt on?


Monday will be tough. Anyone wishing to travel through Germany by sea, air, road or rail will have a hard time. That’s because service union Verdi and rail and transport union EVG are calling for a nationwide shutdown. They want to highlight their demand for substantial wage increases.

The strike begins at midnight. Bahn HR Director Martin Seiler described the actions as “completely exaggerated, unnecessary and disproportionate”. According to IW tariff expert Hagen Lesch, this intense hitting power is a “new phenomenon”.

The double strike is unusual by German standards because its transport infrastructure has been largely paralyzed. This is reminiscent of the conditions we know from France.

Hagen Lesch, German Economic Institute

What will the big strike bring?

The common reputation of the two unions is also new: EVG and Verdi are mobilizing all forces together, although they are holding separate collective bargaining talks. Collective bargaining expert Lesch on the ZDF says he can’t remember such a comprehensive agreement between unions for a warning strike.

[Anm. der Red.: Eine so konzertierte Aktion gab es allerdings schon einmal im Jahr 1992, als bundesweit Nah- und Fernverkehr sowie Flughäfen für mehrere Wochen bestreikt wurden. Allerdings war es damals ein normaler Arbeitskampf und kein Warnstreik.]

EVG is fighting for more money, especially for railroad workers. Just in time for the third round of civil service negotiations, Verdi flexes his muscles. So what does this brake in Germany bring to the 2.5 million employees at the federal and local level?

Strikes mainly affect third parties, here passengers. Airlines and railways are also affected as travel or business appointments are canceled and not all of them are compensated. Employers in the public sector are less affected. In this respect, they will not bow down in the upcoming negotiations.

Hagen Lesch, German Economic Institute

mega hit: Measure and grow before the middle?

Collective bargaining has not yet reached a hopeless stalemate, and the positions – as usual – initially seem distant, but not incompatible. Against this background, the announced mega-strike is inexplicable. What’s behind it?

Many observers agree: The point for unions is to recruit members and stop the downsizing process. Verdi’s strategy of “organizing in conflict” seems to be bearing fruit. According to IW Cologne, Verdi recorded significantly higher admissions in regions with labor disputes. Verdi boss Frank Werneke proudly announces that this has been a success so far this year.

[Lesen Sie hier alle Meldungen über Streiks und Gewerkschaften in Deutschland.]

Expert Lesch finds it problematic that “recruitment increasingly determines strike tactics.” The IW researcher believes that an “enforcement strike” limit has also been reached. In principle, a “sanctions strike” is only initiated when collective bargaining fails – which is not the case.

Fear of loss of wealth

Unions are confident because they have leverage. The hardening of the fronts between the employee and the employer is due to inflation and especially high energy prices.

Fear of loss of welfare is widespread throughout Europe. Unions across the country in France are once again protesting the pension reform planned by President Emmanuel Macron. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets. Now probably also in Germany. It is unclear whether it will be the largest strike in history.

Dennis Berger is an editor in the ZDF business department.

The most important questions and answers about the announced mega strike:

Source: ZDF

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