The German services union Verdi and the country's port employers' federation, ZDS, have finally reached an agreement on a 3% increase in the wages of 11,000 German seafarers, and their paid vacation bonus of €60. The agreement is retroactive to June 1st.
Wage increases have been agreed for German seafarers. The 11,000 employees of the sector will receive 3% more following an agreement negotiated with the industry union Verdi and the employers' federation of the country's ports, ZDS. They will also benefit from a €60 increase in their vacation pay.
The annual bonus paid to employees working on the containers is increasing by €80. The agreement, reached after six rounds of negotiations, is retroactive to June 1 and will be valid for 12 months, after which the social partners will meet again to renegotiate the collective agreement and salaries in the branch.
Involvement guarantees social peace
This is a very good result and a great success for all the trades working in the ports," said Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth, negotiator for the Verdi union. We have succeeded in saving the collective agreement and opened the door to a long-term increase in wages." In Germany, a country of collective agreements and co-determination, the unions are very involved in company management.
This involvement guarantees "social peace", as wildcat strikes are prohibited. Unions can only call a strike when both sides - union and management - have noted the failure of negotiations during regular negotiations to update collective agreements, particularly with regard to wages.
To avoid a strike
"This 3% increase is far beyond what the companies could bear," complains ZDS negotiator Ulrike Riedel. The health crisis has depleted the financial reserves of many of our members. The high level of increases is a challenge for the competitiveness of German ports.
However, we considered this agreement to be a lesser evil for the sector, and that it was better to accept this compromise than to prolong the negotiations or have them fail. But the agreement is still difficult for the industry to bear. The ZDS federation agreed to this wage effort in order to avoid a strike, which would have had even more serious consequences for the sector in times of a pandemic.
Already in 2018, employees in the sector had obtained 3% wage increases and the possibility of choosing between an additional day off per year or an increase in the employer-paid retirement bonus from €15 to €70. Employees working in containers received an additional annual bonus of 250.