Public sector trade unions in Germany continue with major warning strike


Last week, many thousands of teachers and education employees were on strike in several states in Germany to protest for better wages, pension provisions and a collective agreement on the pay scale grouping for public employed teachers. The action will be extended to more federal states during this week.Collective bargaining, in Germany's education sector, takes place between representatives of the federal states and the public sector unions.

The unions, among them ETUCE-members GEW and VBE, demand 5, 5 percent increase in salary and a collective agreement for all public employees. The demands touch also upon the particularities of the German education system. The workers in the education sector are divided in civil servants and public employees. While the civil servants have no right to strike, they still get higher net salaries and pensions than public employees. This leads to the situation at present in which schools in some federal states are closed for strike reasons; while in others everyday school life has not been interrupted. Especially, in the federal state of Saxony, where almost no teacher is a civil servant the strikes will raise high awareness.

In the latest negotiation round, the employers declared that they would only make an offer for wage increase under the precondition that the unions accepted cuts in occupational pensions of employees. This would lead to an even higher drawback for public employees by comparison to the civil servants, because they would receive even lower pensions. The employers argue that their decisions are currently limited by the austerity measures which they agreed on several years ago and which do not allow them to make new debts from 2020 onwards. The unions on the other hand argue that they have agreed on many cuts already in occupational pensions since 2001.

The strikes are expected to continue in the different federal states until the next round of negotiations on 16 March 2015.