Overview of union demands for 2002 bargaining round

In the first three months of 2002, most German trade unions set out their demands for the year's collective bargaining round. The unions are seeking total cost increases of between 4% and 6.5%, mainly in the form of pay rises but also involving other issues such as safeguarding employment, working time reductions, further training, adjustment of east German pay levels and modernisation of pay framework agreements.

Against the background of relatively moderate pay rises in recent years (DE0201201F), most German trade unions have called for significant cost increases of between 4% and 6.5% in the 2002 collective bargaining round.

In December 2001, the IG Metall metalworker's union - which has often functioned as a trend-setter in German collective bargaining - recommended pay increases of between 5% and 7% and thereby set a benchmark for trade union demands in the 2002 bargaining round (DE0112248F). In January 2002, IG Metall's regional collective bargaining committees agreed to demand an overall increase of 6.5% in metalworking, to be used for pay increases as well as for an upgrading of certain groups of employees in the context of a modernisation of pay framework agreements. Through this proposed modernisation, the union is aiming to abolish the traditional distinction between blue- and white-collar workers. In other sectors such as the wood industry or automobile trade, IG Metall has called for 5.5% pay increases.

In December 2001, the national board of the Unified Service Sector Union (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, ver.di) adopted a resolution on the 2002 bargaining round which recommended 'significant increases in real pay'. It is, however, the formal responsibility of ver.di's sectoral departments to determine concrete demands for their respective sectors. In January and February 2002, demands were formulated in sectors such as banking, insurance, printing, Deutsche Post and the wholesale trade. In all these sectors, ver.di has called for a total cost increase of 6.5%, to be used in different ways according to the particular situation of the sector. In banking, for example, ver.di has demanded various measures to safeguard employment - including reduction of working time - after Germany's largest banks announced significant redundancies. In other sectors, ver.di has called for an increase in annual bonuses to 100% of one month's pay (as at Deutsche Post AG and the wholesale trade) or new agreements on further training and additional company pension schemes (as in insurance).

In January 2002, the Mining, Chemicals and Energy Union (IG Bergbau Chemie Energie, IG BCE) made a claim for a 5.5% pay increase in the chemicals industry, plus a final adjustment of east German pay levels to west German levels and linking parts of current annual bonuses to company performance. The Food and Restaurant Workers' Union (Gewerkschaft Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten, NGG) recommended pay increases of between 4% and 5.5%, depending on the particular situation within the various subsectors of the food industry. Finally, the Building, Agricultural and Environmental Union (IG Bauen, Agrar, Umwelt, IG BAU) demanded a 4.5% pay increase for the construction sector. Moreover, in the current bargaining round IG BAU is the only union to have called for a significant reduction of working time, from the current 39 hours to 37 per week. The actual working time reduction should, however, be arranged on an annual basis.

All unions have called for new pay agreements with a duration of 12 months only, thereby rejecting employers' demands for longer-term agreements. Furthermore, it is notable that no union had put gender-specific demands on its agenda.

During the first sets of negotiations in the various sectors, employers' associations have generally rejected the unions' demands as too expensive and called for a continuation of moderate pay increases. For example, on 19 March 2002, the employers' association for the metalworking and electrical industry, Gesamtmetall, made an initial offer of a 24-month agreement providing for a 2% basic pay increase in 2002 and a further 2% in 2003.

Trade union bargaining demands in selected sectors, 2002
Sector Trade union responsible Main demands
Metalworking IG Metall 6.5% increase, composed of pay increase and adjustment cost for a new pay framework agreement.
Banking Ver.di 6.5% increase, composed of pay rises and measures to safeguard employment (including reductions of working time).
Insurance Ver.di 6.5% pay increase, new agreements on further training and additional company pension schemes.
Printing Ver.di 6.5% pay increase.
Deutsche Post AG Ver.di 6.5% pay increase plus increase in annual Christmas bonus to 100% of one month's pay.
Wholesale trade Ver.di 6.5% increase, composed of pay increase and increase in annual Christmas and holiday bonus to 100% of one month's pay.
Chemicals IG BCE 5.5% pay increase, adjustment of east German pay levels to west German levels, linking of annual bonuses to company performance.
Wood industry IG Metall 5.5% pay increase.
Automobile Trade IG Metall 5.5% pay increase.
Construction IG BAU 4.5% pay increase and further reduction of annual working time.
Food industry NGG 4%-5.5% pay increases depending on particular subsector.

Source: WSI Collective Agreement Archive 2002.

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