Union extends its protests against proposed new postal law

More than 43,000 German postal workers participated in a central demonstration in October 1997, organised by the DPG trade union as part of its protests against the proposed new postal law.

In autumn 1997, the German Posts and Telecommunications Trade Union DPG (Deutsche Postgewerkschaft) extended its protests against the Government's draft of a new postal law. On 23 September, DPG called for extra works meetings (Betriebsversammlungen) to inform the 300,000 or so employees of Deutsche Post AG- the privatised successor of the former state post service - about the possible social consequences of the new law. On 8 October, more than 43,000 postal workers responded to the DPG's initiative for a central demonstration against the new postal law in Bonn, accompanied by various protest actions at regional level.

At the beginning of 1997, the German Government passed the draft of a new postal law which aims at a further liberalisation of postal services (DE9701102N). According to the draft, the former postal delivery monopoly of Deutsche Post AG will in future be limited to letters weighting under 100g, and this only until the end of 2002. As a result, large parts of the postal services - including the most profitable bulk mail market - will be open to free market competition from 1 January 1998.

The DPG sharply rejects the new postal law because it expects far-reaching negative consequences such as:

  • job losses. DPG states that up to 70,000 jobs will be threatened by the new postal law;
  • unfair competition. DPG is afraid that new private competitors will come up with "social dumping" methods like very low wages, marginal part-time workers (geringfügig Beschäftigte) and sham self-employment; and
  • threatening universal services. DPG expects that mail fees in particular for small clients will go up drastically while the service, especially in rural areas, will worsen. By contrast, big clients like mail-order houses or large media concerns will be the ones which profit most by using cheaper private postal services.

The DPG demands a new postal law which gives an unlimited exclusive licence for all letters up to a higher weight limit of 350g to Deutsche Post AG. Furthermore, DPG demands the setting of minimum standards for wages and working conditions for all private postal companies.

After the German Parliament (Bundestag), where there is a majority of the governing coalition parties, recently supported the draft postal law, the draft has been rejected in the second chamber (Bundesrat) in which the opposition parties have the majority. Both chambers of the parliament have now convened the joint mediation committee (Vermittlungsausschuß) which has to find a new compromise.

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