Largest strike by German transport workers to press for wage revision

 

Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent

 

On 27 March, over 4 lakh German workers at airports, ports, railways, buses and subways walked out at midnight for 24-hour strike.

The call for the strike was given by the country’s two largest transport unions, Verdi and EVG, to press for their demand for higher wages to cope with the cost-of-living crisis workers have been facing.

Verdi represents around 25 lakh employees in the public sector, including in public transport and at airports, while EVG is representing around 230,000 employees at Deutsche Bahn and bus companies.

There have been multiple smaller walkouts by other public service sector workers in Germany, but the strike on Monday, 27 March was the largest in decades.

Employers have offered only 5% increase over a period of 27 months and a one-off payment of 2,500 euros ($2,700) which proposals unions called unacceptable in view of the inflation of over 9% in February 2023.

Verdi is demanding a 10.5% wage increase, which would see pay rising by at least 500 euros per month, while EVG is asking for a 12% raise or at least 650 euros per month.

Verdi leader described the pay rise as “a matter of survival for many thousands of employees”. He further added, “workers are not only underpaid but hopelessly overworked.” “Employees are fed up with being fobbed off with warm words while work conditions get ever worse and there are many vacant posts,” he said.

High inflation since last year has hit German workers hard. The leader of the Civil Service Federation said, “We have recorded drops in real wages and these need to be balanced out.” He said that some of his union’s members in larger cities are having to apply for state benefits to afford rent.

United actions by workers of other sectors in Germany have recently succeeded in securing big pay increases. Postal workers secured average monthly increases of 11.5% earlier in March, and in November 2022 IG Metall, Germany’s biggest union, achieved rises totalling 8.5% for almost 40 lakh employees it represents.

 

 

 

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