The morning after, there was a lot of tiredness in the room. You could see glassy eyes and dark circles, and the chief negotiators who presented their compromise blinked in the spotlight. The federal government and municipal employers had wrestled with the Verdi and Deutscher Beamtenbund trade unions for three days and nights until the collective bargaining agreement for public sector employees was on Sunday morning. The negotiations were “hard to very hard”, said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), and Verdi boss Frank Werneke called them “difficult” and “demanding”. The result is correspondingly complicated; it is full of gradations and special regulations. An overview:
Wage increase, term and costs
Each of the approximately 2.5 million employees receives at least 3.2 percent more salary, in two stages: From April 1, 2021, there is 1.4 percent more, from April 1, 2022 another 1.8 percent on top. The increase is greater for low-income employees, for two reasons: The first level of increase is at least 50 euros, which is more than 1.4 percent for this group. Second, there is an increase in the annual special payment of five percent for the lower pay groups (1-8). This results in a salary increase of up to 4.5 percent for this group. The collective agreement runs until December 31, 2022 and, according to the Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations, costs 4.9 billion euros. President Ulrich Mädge said he hoped for support from the federal government in the years to come.
There are hundreds of different professions in the public service of the federal government and municipalities, such as garbage collector or educator, theater pedagogue or controller in financial administration. All employees now receive a corona bonus, which is intended to honor the fact that the public service works well even in times of the pandemic. It is 600 euros for low-income earners (pay groups 1-8), 400 euros for medium-sized (groups 9-12) and 300 euros for high-income earners (groups 13-15). Apprentices receive 225 euros if they are employed by a local authority and 200 euros if they work for the federal government.
Nurses benefit the most
Nursing staff benefit more than others, whether in hospitals, retirement homes or other facilities. From March 2021 you will receive a monthly care allowance of 70 euros, a year later it increases to 120 euros. There is also an extra bonus for intensive care carers, the intensive supplement increases from 46.02 to 100 euros. Thirdly, the allowance increases for all those who work alternating shifts, i.e. at different times. Instead of 105, it is now 155 euros. Depending on which allowances a carer receives, the salary increases by up to ten percent. There is also an allowance for doctors who are employed by the health authorities, namely 300 euros.
To this day, different amounts of work are worked in East and West German municipalities, 40 hours in the east and 39 hours in the west. This is now being adjusted: at the beginning of 2022, working hours in the east are to be reduced by half an hour, and in 2023 to 39 hours.
Savings banks and airports
There are special rules for employees. The airports are in a serious crisis because only a few aircraft are taking off due to the corona pandemic. The employees are exempt from the salary increases, instead an emergency collective agreement is to be negotiated for them soon, which lowers personnel costs and rules out redundancies. The situation is also difficult at savings banks. That is why there is a lower wage increase there; it is not at least 3.2 percent, as with the other employees, but 2.4 percent. In addition, the annual special payment will be reduced, for which the employees will receive compensation in the form of days off.
Criticism of the conclusion
Many observers see the conclusion as positive, but not all. Some criticize that little or nothing could be left of the increase for employees with higher incomes, if inflation is factored in: forecasts come to 1.4 percent for next year and 1.6 percent for the next one. Others complain that the corona bonus is paid for all employees and not just for jobs that are particularly affected by the pandemic.
Bus and train drivers continue to strike
Verdi had exerted pressure with strikes during the collective bargaining round; daycare centers and hospitals were also affected. That’s off the table with the agreement. In the local public transport sector, however, the strikes are continuing, where another conflict is at stake: bus and train drivers want to achieve a nationwide uniform framework collective agreement. So far, employers have refused to even start negotiations.