Collective bargaining for the public sector at federal and local level has failed. Employers and unions did not reach a result in the last of three planned rounds of negotiations. Independent arbitrators will now seek a solution. During the arbitration period, there is a peace obligation – so there will be no new work stoppages in the public sector over the Easter days.

“In the end we had to realize that the differences could not be bridged,” said Verdi boss Frank Werneke early Thursday morning in Potsdam. Werneke said that Verdi had declared the failure of the negotiations. The trade union bodies had decided this unanimously. The head of the civil servants’ association dbb, Ulrich Silberbach, also expressed his views on behalf of his union.

Shortly thereafter, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) announced: “We will now convene the arbitration.” Faeser and the municipal negotiator, Karin Welge, regretted that the unions had declared failure. The employers would have offered 8 percent more income and a minimum amount of 300 euros and a one-off payment of 3000 euros.

In arbitration, previously appointed independent arbitrators propose a solution within a set period of time. The parties to the collective bargaining agreement then negotiate this again.

Negotiations went on for several days

Since Monday, trade unions and employers in Potsdam have been negotiating the incomes of 2.5 million employees in their third round of negotiations. Discussions between the negotiating leaders and consultations between the individual collective bargaining partners kept changing. There was a lot of internal clarification needed at the Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations (VKA).

The Verdi union and the civil servants’ association dbb are demanding 10.5 percent more income, but at least 500 euros more per month. This minimum amount is key for them: For those on lower incomes, this is intended to compensate for the high inflation. The VKA had long rejected a minimum amount.

The employers had also rejected the demands as a whole as unaffordable. The trade unions were outraged by the employers’ attitude and have organized increasingly large warning strikes in recent weeks.

Verdi strengthened by warning strikes

The unions paralyzed public transport, but also daycare centers, clinics and garbage disposal with massive warning strikes. Verdi sees itself strengthened by the massive warning strikes of the past few weeks. Verdi boss Frank Werneke spoke of the “largest warning strike participation for many years and decades”. The union recorded over 70,000 entries in the past three months.

Members of a number of professions are affected by the collective bargaining in the public sector – including educators, bus drivers, employees of pools, firefighters, nurses, administrative employees, geriatric nurses, sewage treatment plant employees, foresters and doctors.

It is about the income of more than 2.4 million employees of the municipal employers and 134,000 of the federal government. According to the will of the trade unions, the result should be transferred to the civil servants.