2010 bargaining round examined

The latest annual report on collective bargaining in Germany from the Institute for Economic and Social Research reviewed agreements concluded in 2010 affecting some 8.8 million employees. Another 7.5 million received pay increases in 2010 agreed in previous years. The average increase in collectively agreed earnings was 1.8% in 2010 compared with 2.6% in 2009. Pay increases in 2010 varied between sectors. Actual gross earnings increased 2.2% in 2010 compared with 2009.

In January 2011, the Collective Agreement Archive (WSI-Tarifarchiv) of the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) within the Hans Böckler Foundation (HBS) issued a press release (in German) summarising the findings of its report on the 2010 collective bargaining round.

The WSI study evaluated collective agreements concluded by trade unions affiliated to the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) in 2010, which affected some 8.8 million employees or about 48% of all those covered by a collective agreement. Another 7.5 million employees received pay increases in 2010 that had been agreed in previous years.

Collectively agreed pay increases

In 2010, the trade unions initially made claims for pay increases of between 4.5% and 6%. Some unions entered the negotiations without having specified their pay demands.

The average collectively agreed increase in wages and salaries was 1.8% in 2010, which was below the 2.6% increase of 2009. In western Germany, the average collectively agreed increase was 1.7% whereas it was 2% in eastern Germany. The pay increases varied between sectors; for example, 0.9% in the public sector and 2.9% in the energy/water supply/mining sector (Table 1).

Table 1: Average annual increases in collectively agreed pay, by sector, 2006–2010 (%)

Sector

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

Construction

2.4

2.4

3.0

2.0

0.7

Food industry

2.4

2.4

2.5

2.2

1.6

Transport and communications

2.3

2.9

3.5

2.2

2.0

Raw material and production industries

2.2

2.5

3.3

2.6

2.7

Horticulture/agriculture/forestry

1.6

2.8

3.7

1.7

1.2

Investment goods industry

1.0

3.3

2.6

3.4

2.4

Consumption goods industry

1.8

2.4

2.8

2.5

1.5

Distributive trades

2.5

1.4

1.9

2.0

0.9

Energy/water supply/mining

2.9

4.1

3.0

2.0

1.8

Private services, nonprofit sector

2.2

1.9

3.0

1.4

0.8

Banking/insurance

1.8

1.8

2.7

1.8

2.1

Public services/social security

0.9

3.7

4.4

0.6

0.5

All sectors

1.8

2.6

2.9

2.2

1.5

Note: Increases shown are against the previous year.

Source: WSI, Collective Agreement Archive

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), actual gross earnings increased by 2.2% in 2010 compared with a decrease of 0.4% in 2009.

The trend in recent years to extend the duration of collective agreements continued in 2010. The average duration of pay agreements signed in 2009 was 24.3 months compared with 24.1 months in 2010. In eastern Germany, the duration of collective agreements in past years has tended to be longer than in western Germany. This pattern, which was reversed in 2008 and 2009, returned in 2010 (Table 2).

Table 2: Average duration of collective agreements, 2001–2010 (in months)
 

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Western Germany

14.1

18.1

20.4

21.8

25.2

21.6

22.2

22.2

24.3

23.6

Eastern Germany

16.4

19.7

21.0

22.0

28.4

24.7

21.9

23.4

23.2

28.3

Source: WSI, Collective Bargaining Archive

Many collective agreements contained so-called ‘zero’ months; these are months within the duration of the collective agreements in which an agreed pay increase is delayed (Table 3).

Table 3: Outcomes of selected pay agreements in 2010 bargaining round

Date

Sector

Provisions

18 February 2010

Metalworking industry, North Rhine-Westphalia, pilot agreement (DE1004029I)

One-off payment of €320 for May 2010 to March 20112.7% increase on 1 April 2011Valid until 31 March 2012

27 February 2010

Public employees (federal and local level)

1.2% on 1 January 20100.6% on 1 January 20110.5% on 1 August 2011One-off payment of €240 in January 2011Valid until 29 February 2012

21 April 2010

Chemical industry (DE1006019I)

One-off payment of €550 for 11 monthsDuration according to region until February/March/April 2011

10 May 2010

Automotive trades, Baden Württemberg

One ‘zero month’ (May 2010)0.6% on 1 June 20101.0% on 1 December 20101.9% on 1 July 20110.6% on 1 January 2012Valid until 30 April 2012

20 May 2010

Paper processing industry

Six so-called ‘zero-months’ without increase (May–October 2010)1.3% on 1 November 20101.5% on 1 May 20111.3% on 1 March 2012Valid until 31 August 2012

31 May 2010

Hotel and restaurants, North Rhine-Westphalia

Two so-called ‘zero-months’ without increase (June–July 2010)2.0% on 1 August 20101.8% on 1 July 2011Valid until 30 April 2012

10 June 2010

Banking

One-off payment of €300 in total for May–December 20101.6% on 1 January 2011Valid until 29 February 2012

26 June 2010

Utilities (electricity, gas, water), North Rhine-Westphalia

2.6% on 1 July 2010Valid until 30 June 2011

30 September 2010

Steel industry (DE1010019I)

One-off payment of €150 in September 20103.6% on 1 October 2010Valid until 31 October 2011

Source: WSI, Collective Bargaining Archive

Gender pay gap

Although the considerable gap in average earnings between men and women continues in Germany (23% in 2009 according to figures from Destatis), special provisions to tackle wage discrimination were not included in the collective agreements concluded in 2010.

Disputes and prominent bargaining rounds

The 2010 bargaining rounds saw few industrial disputes about sectoral collective agreements but there were a significant number of smaller disputes.

Some longer strike action was recorded in a three-week dispute over pay for doctors in municipal hospitals. The dispute in May and June 2010 involved the medical doctors’ union Marburger Bund (MB) and the Municipal Employers’ Association (VKA).

The United Services Union (ver.di) recorded some 100 incidents of industrial action, most of them disputes concerning company-level agreements in the private service sector.

Following a joint dispute resolution procedure and a limited number of warning strikes, ver.di agreed a new collective agreement in February 2010 with representatives of the federal government (Bundesregierung) and VKA which covers about 2.1 million public sector employees at federal and local level.

The 2010 bargaining rounds in the German metalworking and electrical industry, which have often in the past had potential for dispute, were strongly affected at the beginning of 2010 by the impact of the economic crisis on the industry. In January 2010, the German Metalworkers’ Union (IG Metall) issued a statement (in German) that some 700,000 jobs were at risk. Unprecedented in its bargaining history, the trade union decided to enter into the bargaining round without having tabled a specific pay demand; instead the focus was on employment and training. Talks between the bargaining parties started long before the current collective agreement was due to expire in April 2010 and were remarkably brief. On 17 February 2010 the bargaining parties signed a new pay agreement and an agreement called ‘Future in work’ (Zukunft in Arbeit, ZiA). This targets establishments implementing short-time working for at least 12 months and provides the opportunity to extend its duration to 24 months by way of a voluntary company agreement. After the end of statutory short-time working, the agreement arranges for a reduction of weekly working time with partial wage compensation. The main terms of the agreement are as follows.

  • Weekly working time can be reduced to a minimum of 29 hours in eastern Germany and to 26–28 hours in western Germany (depending on the region).
  • A reduction to 28 hours is enforceable through an arbitration committee, while a reduction to 26 hours is to be settled through a works agreement.
  • Any reduction below 31 hours a week is to be compensated.
  • In the case of 28 weekly working hours, 29.5 hours are to be paid; in case of 26 hours, 28 hours are to be paid.

Following a number of warning strikes, the bargaining parties of the north-west German steel industry agreed on a new wage package in September 2010, which included a €150 one-off payment and a general pay increase of 3.6% with effect from 1 October. The parties also concluded a new collective agreement ensuring that temporary agency workers in the steel industry are paid the same as workers on standard contracts. This is the first such collective agreement in the history of collective bargaining in Germany.

Heiner Dribbusch, Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI)

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