Germany’s public sector wins 7.5% rise over 30 months

By on 24/04/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Flights were severely disrupted at major aviation hubs including Frankfurt Airport by strikes among public sector workers last week (9-13 April) (Image courtesy: Epizentrum).

German unions and employers agreed last week to boost the pay of more than two million public sector workers by some 7.5% over 30 months.

Under the deal, employees will have their wages increased in phases, starting with a 3.19% pay hike backdated to 1 March. They will receive a second increase of 3.09% on 1 April 2019 and a further 1.06% raise on 1 March 2020.

A one-off payment of €250 (US$306) will also be made to low-paid workers, and public sector pay scales will be changed to make them more transparent.

Talks broker €10bn deal

The deal, which was announced at 1am on Wednesday 18 April, came after three days of intensive talks in Potsdam, near Berlin, and a series of nationwide strikes by public sector workers last week. The stoppages caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled and disruption to vital services including hospitals, nurseries and refuse collection.

Germany’s recently appointed interior minister Horst Seehofer, who led the negotiations for the employers’ side, said the deal will make working for the public services a more attractive option at a cost of about €2.2bn (US$2.7bn) per year to the federal government.

“I’m satisfied,” he said. “The public finances will not be overstretched.”

Local authorities will shoulder additional salary costs totalling €7.5bn (US$9.2bn), according to the Association of Local Government Employers, which also took part in the negotiations.

Unions content

Horst Seehofer, Germany’s federal minister of the interior, building and community (Image courtesy: Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community).

The result was welcomed by services union Verdi, which led last week’s strike action by more than 150,000 workers in concert with the German Civil Service Federation (Deutscher Beamtenbund).

“It’s the best result in many years,” said Verdi’s chairman Frank Bsirske.

At the start of the third round of talks, which began on Sunday, the two unions were demanding a pay hike of 6% for one year, or at least €200 (US$245) per month.

The Ministry of the Interior said it will introduce a law to extend the deal, which covers some 2.3m public sector workers, to civil servants, judges and soldiers.

The agreement comes after Germany’s IG Metall union struck a pay and flexible working hours deal with employers in the manufacturing sector that amounted to wage increases of about 3.7% in 2018 and 4% in 2019 for some 3.9m workers.

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London. She worked on daily newspapers for more than 16 years as an education correspondent, section editor and general news reporter. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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