German Teachers: Pay negotiations concluded but teachers’ problems still not solved


In the fourth round of pay negotiations an agreement on future pay increases was finally achieved. The German public sector unions, among them ETUCE member GEW, and the German federal states (Bundesländer) as the employers of 900.000 employees including 200.000 teachers and about 200.000 higher education teachers and researchers agreed on an increase of  2,1% starting from March 2015. Additionally, next year there will be another increase of 2,3 % with a  minimum of 75 Euro per month. Now, the unions urge the Bundesländer to also raise the remuneration of the civil servants accordingly which would  concern 660.000 teachers.

The most controversial question was about the employers' demands to cut the occupational pensions. The unions managed successfully to overrule this claim: The annual pension entitlement in the existing defined benefit system remains unchanged at least for the next ten years. The price was a rise in employee contributions to the occupational pension systems. The rise is moderate in the western German Bundesländer, which have a traditional pay-as-you-go system, and more markedly in the eastern German Bundesländer, where low interest rates endangered the funding of future benefits.

The second major issue in the negotiations was GEW's demand for a collective agreement with the Bundesländer on the pay scale grouping of the employed teachers. GEW wished to narrow the huge gap in net income between civil servant teachers and employed teachers. GEW had refused to sign an agreement which would have brought no financial improvement to its members but instead it would have prevented further collective action for at least four years. However, some other teacher unions were willing to sign the agreement and the negotiations were interrupted. At this moment, it is rather unclear when and how GEW's battle for the employed teachers' better pay will continue.

The pay agreement which was reached with the federal Bundesländer does not hold for the nursery and pre-primary teachers who are predominantly employed by the municipalities. GEW together with the other public sector unions have been negotiating for several weeks with the umbrella organization of the municipal employers for a better pay scaling within the educational jobs. During the last weeks, the colleagues concerned have conducted several regional warning strikes. They intend to continue to take collective actions throughout the negotiations.

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