Union opposes end of postal delivery monopoly

In February 1997, the German postal workers' union organised disruptive actions and demonstrations in opposition to the liberalisation of the postal service proposed by the coalition Government.

As the legislation regulating the postal delivery monopoly will expire by the end of 1997, on 18 February Germany's governing coalition parties proposed a new law which would limit the exclusive licence of Deutsche Post AG, the national postal service, to handling letters weighting under 100g, and this only until the end of 2002. According to the Ministry responsible, this proposal would reduce Deutsche Post's current monopoly to 87% of the standard letter market. The proposed new law would also open completely the bulk mail market to licensed competitors from 1 January 1998.

Prior to the coalition's decision, Deutsche Postgewerkschaft (DPG), the postal workers' union, staged massive protests against changing the postal delivery monopoly. According to union figures, on several days more than 10,000 employees took part in brief warning strike s of about one hour, disrupting postal services in more than 50 cities. About 23,000 postal workers attended a union demonstration in Bonn.

The DPG, as well as Deutsche Post AG, fears that ending the letter monopoly and increasing competition in the postal market may lead to a substantial reduction in jobs, and to post office closures. The DPG wants the postal service to be given an exclusive licence for all letters up to a higher weight limit of 350g, including the bulk mail market. The union has promised further protests until the Government's policy takes account of the interests of the 300,000 postal workers. The DPG has obtained support from the opposition Social Democratic Party, which controls the majority of federal state governments. The latter would have to approve the new law on postal services in the upper house of Parliament.

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