Overview of trade union demands for 2000 bargaining round

In the first two months of the 2000, most German trade unions set out their demands for the year's collective bargaining round. The unions demanded total increases of between 4% and 5.5%, including both pay rises and financial contributions to new arrangements for partial and early retirement.

On 11 January 1999, the IG Metall metalworkers' union presented its 2000 bargaining demands, calling for an overall increase of 5.5%, to include both pay rises and a financial contribution to the introduction of a new early retirement scheme at 60 (DE9910217F). IG Metall justified its claims on the grounds of an assumed increase in prices of 1.5%, a predicted increase in productivity of 3.5% and a small "redistribution component" of 0.5% which is justified by the high profits in the metalworking industry.

In the following weeks, the level of IG Metall's bargaining demands functioned as a benchmark for almost all major collective bargaining areas. Many other sectoral trade unions either adopted the metalworkers' demands for a 5.5% increase (for example, in insurance, retail trade, printing and paper processing) or presented bargaining claims slightly below that level (for example, in public services, the construction industry and the postal service) - see the table below. An unusual exception was the Mining, Chemicals and Energy Union (IG Chemie, Bergbau und Energie, IG BCE), which did not set a figure for a bargaining claim in the chemicals industry but declared that the overall volume of increase should be equivalent to the increase in productivity in this industry.

In many sectors, the overall bargaining demands of the unions included not only pay increases but also an employees' contribution to the introduction of new early or partial retirement schemes. The latter are regarded as a major contribution to an "employment-oriented" collective bargaining policy (see below). The unions have not proposed a single model of early retirement but argue for sector-specific solutions.

Most employers' associations, however, sharply rejected these demands and accused the unions of contravening the recent outcomes of the national Alliance for Jobs (Bündnis für Arbeit). At the beginning of January 2000, top-level talks within the Alliance led to the adoption of a joint statement on an "employment-oriented collective bargaining policy", according to which the available "distributive margin" (Verteilungsspielraum) should be based on productivity growth and should be primarily used for job-creation agreements (DE0001232F). In addition, however, the joint agreement called also for "job-creating early retirement on acceptable terms for the persons concerned". The unions, therefore, see no contradiction between the Alliance and their bargaining strategy.

Trade union demands in selected sectors in 2000
Sector Trade union(s) Main demands
Metalworking IG Metall 5.5% increase, composed of pay rises and a contribution to the costs of a new early retirement scheme at 60.
Wood industry IG Metall 5.5% increase, composed of pay rises and a contribution to the costs of a new early retirement scheme at 60.
Public services ÖTV and DAG 5% pay increase and a schedule for the alignment of east and west German pay levels.
Posts, telecoms and Postbank DPG 5% pay increase.
Chemicals industry IG BCE An increase, to be used for pay and employment-creating measures, which corresponds with the increase of productivity in the chemicals industry, including: pay increases which exceed increase of inflation; and the renewal and extension of partial retirement arrangements.
Construction Industry IG BAU 4.8% increase, composed of a pay increase and a contribution to a new collectively agreed pension scheme and a new partial retirement scheme.
Insurance HBV and DAG 5.5% pay increase.
Retail trade (Baden-Würtemberg) HBV 5.5% pay increase and introduction of minimum monthly pay of DEM 2,600.
Printing and paper processing IG Medien 5.5% pay increase.
Food NGG Pay increases between 4% and 5.5% depending on the framework conditions in the various subsectors.

Source: WSI Collective Agreement Archive 2000.

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