It would be tempting to get excited now. Germany is sliding from one crisis to the next, Corona and other viruses are circulating, there is war in Europe, everything is getting more expensive. And in this situation, the employees of the post office can’t think of anything better than to go on strike?
The Verdi union has called for industrial action, and it is noteworthy that this is not a small warning strike, but rather a big bang. From 5 p.m. on Thursday, the employees of the distribution centers should go on strike, the call is also valid for the whole of Friday, and it is to be expected that many will follow it. Because Verdi has many members at Swiss Post. The smaller DPVKOM union is also calling for strikes in individual locations.
People now have to expect that many letters and packages will be delayed by several days – and of course they can find that annoying. At the same time, however, they should show understanding, because the motives of the trade unionists are understandable. Postmen and women do not earn well, many of them earn less than 3000 euros gross, from which they often have to finance an expensive life in the big city for themselves and their families. The high inflation of 7.9 percent last year has torn large holes in their already not particularly well-stocked wallets.
Verdi’s salary demand – 15 percent for a period of one year – may seem excessive at first glance, but on closer inspection it is not. Since the last salary increase was measly, the postmen have lost about six percent of their salaries due to inflation over the past year. Inflation could be similarly high again in 2023. So the postmen need a hefty increase on paper so that their real wages don’t shrink any further.
According to everything we hear, the management of Deutsche Post has shown little understanding for this in the two previous rounds of negotiations. It could definitely afford higher salaries: For 2022, the group expects a record result of 8.4 billion euros, In 2021, the profit was hardly lower at 8 billion euros. It is therefore only logical that the unions are now stepping up the pressure.
The strikes at the post office are likely to be just the beginning anyway. In the coming week, collective bargaining in the federal and local public sector will begin, it will then be about the salaries of 2.5 million garbage workers, educators, administrative employees and others. Retail, state government and several industries will follow later in the year. Everywhere the unions will insist on significantly higher wages, if only because the workers and employees expect it from them in these times of crisis. After all, the trade unions depend on their membership fees.
It could also be possible without strikes. In the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, trade unionists and employers almost silently negotiated a deal last fall that gave employees significantly more money while still giving the companies leeway. For months they had worked on it together behind closed doors instead of attacking each other in public. How nice it would be if other industries took this as an example.