According to one expert, the difficult situation at Deutsche Bahn with problems with punctuality and a dilapidated infrastructure is also affecting collective bargaining with the EVG trade union. “The atmosphere in the group is very bad due to the many shortcomings and crises. It doesn’t seem to work anymore,” said political scientist Wolfgang Schroeder of the German Press Agency. “It’s a situation that shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of the collective bargaining conflict. And it’s being carried out on the backs of the employees.”

Schroeder finds it understandable that the union wants to achieve more than the recently discussed 400 euros more per month for a period of 27 months plus 2850 euros for inflation compensation. “Everything looks very high at first glance, but you also have to see that inflation is very high,” said the political scientist. In addition, the EVG must bring home a “trophy”, i.e. a result “with a clear handwriting”.

Day-long strikes possible

On Wednesday evening, the EVG declared collective bargaining for a good 180,000 employees at Deutsche Bahn to have failed. The national board of the union then decided to start a ballot on indefinite strikes. This is expected to take four to five weeks. If 75 percent of those taking part in the vote speak out in favor of the industrial action, there is a risk of strikes lasting for days from around August.

“A good result in the ballot could also be an argument that the employers should add something to the offer and there will be further negotiations,” said expert Schroeder. “After all, the comparison with the public service still offers some room for the web management.”

Even before the most recent round of negotiations, Schroeder had suspected that there could be another industrial dispute at Deutsche Bahn. “If the EVG didn’t do that, their previous approach would probably be in vain. After all, they are faced with considerable expectations and want to get out of the shadow of the GDL.”

“With Weselsky, an experienced warhorse at the helm”

The Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) with its boss Claus Weselsky has made a name for itself in recent years through its tough approach to collective bargaining conflicts. She will enter into negotiations with the DB in the autumn, with the federally owned group around 8,000 employees being paid according to the GDL collective agreements. The union demands, among other things, 555 euros more per month for a 12-month term, three hours less weekly working time for employees in shift work and 3,000 euros for inflation compensation.

“While the GDL has an experienced warhorse in Weselsky, who is an undisputed leader in his organization, you don’t know that with the new EVG leadership,” said expert Schroeder. The two negotiators Cosima Ingenschay and Kristian Loroch had not previously appeared in a prominent position and EVG boss Martin Burkert had not been in office for long. “So it’s not all that well-established and therefore also an experiment with an open outcome.”