New pact for jobs at Deutsche Bahn AG

In October 1998, the bargaining parties in the German railway sector concluded a new agreement which guarantees that there will be no redundancies at Deutsche Bahn AG before the end of 2002.

On 14 October 1998, the board of Deutsche Bahn AG, the company works council and the trade union for the railway sector, Gewerkschaft der Eisenbahner Deutschlands (GdED), concluded a new "pact for jobs" (Beschäftigungsbündnis) for the 260,000 or so employees of the German railway company. The new agreement succeeds an earlier employment pact, which was concluded in 1996 and will be terminated at the end of 1998.

Under the new pact for jobs there will be no redundancies at Deutsche Bahn until the end of 2002. To achieve that goal, both parties declare that it is still necessary to improve further the competitiveness of the company. The trade union also declares its support for the company's continuing restructuring measures, which started after the privatisation of the German railway system in 1994. According to the employment pact, jobs should be secured by

  • an extension of the company's internal labour market by increasing employee mobility and using more employee transfers within the company;
  • more flexible working time arrangements; and
  • reintegration of formerly outsourced business units to Deutsche Bahn AG (such as security services, cleaning of trains and facility management).

The detailed provisions on these points should be regulated by collective agreements in the forthcoming bargaining round.

The GdED vice-president, Norbert Hansen, called the first employment pact after the September German general election "a signal for political change in Germany" which provides for "an extended protection against dismissal without any direct concessions from the employee side". Originally, the management of Deutsche Bahn had demanded a cut in collectively agreed extra payments (tarifliche Zulagen) and a reduction of co-determination rights in the event of transfer of employees within different company units.

The chief executive of Deutsche Bahn, Johannes Ludewig, has also welcomed the employment pact. However, Mr Ludewig emphasised that the job security has been agreed with the reservation that the railway company will improve its employees' flexibility and mobility and its overall economic performance. In fact, Deutsche Bahn plans to decrease its workforce by about 20,000 jobs before the end of 1998 without redundancies by using early retirement and voluntary termination of employment contracts.

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