:The BVG threatens 2019 warning strikes
Full subways, delays – and soon also warning strikes. The passengers of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) are faced with further inconvenience. “We are in the process of preparing labor disputes,” said Jeremy Arndt of the Verdi union. In early 2019 it could come to work stoppages.
A new collective bargaining agreement is intended to bring improvements to the approximately 14,600 people working for the BVG Group. On Wednesday, the exploratory talks with the Municipal Employers’ Association (KAV) began, for January 28, the first round of negotiations was scheduled.
“Passengers are already stressed enough”
Because the four core demands of the union would increase the annual personnel costs by a high double-digit million amount, resistance will be expected. In order to enforce the wish list, warning strikes, which burden passengers, may become necessary, announced Arndt. “Probably there will be first warning strikes in individual parts of the plant.” So not nationwide.
Arndt knows that labor disputes are unpopular. “The passengers are already stressed enough.” The collective bargaining but it is also about them. “If the BVG does not offer better working conditions, it will get massive problems due to lack of staff – which will affect the passengers.” The new collective bargaining agreement is intended to help ensure that the national company receives more suitable candidates and becomes more attractive again as a workplace.
After a survey in which 55 percent of the Verdi members took part in the BVG and its subsidiary Berlin Transport, the negotiation topics were defined.
Less work at full pay
On the one hand, according to Verdi, it is about relieving many employees – by shortening working hours with full pay compensation. This is expected to benefit employees hired in 2005 or later and currently working 39 hours a week. In the future, like their colleagues who have been with the BVG for a long time, they should be able to work 36.5 hours per week – without getting less pay. According to the union, this would cost the BVG around 70 million euros annually.
The second requirement is to revise the schedule of charges! An example: At present, the wage increases after every four years, in the future the time span should be shorter. It is still unclear how this would increase staff costs, said Jeremy Arndt. Claim number three: benefit for Verdi members. In the future they should receive holiday pay equal to the individual annual union contribution. Costs for the BVG: 15 million euros per year.
Two million euros would cost the fourth improvement. Anyone who has completed an apprenticeship at the BVG should, unlike now in the first year of employment, receive a Christmas gift, according to Verdi. Last year, the BVG Group recorded personnel costs of € 647.6 million. BVG spokeswoman Petra Reetz said nothing about the Verdi demands. “The negotiations are conducted by the KAV, and as before, the BVG only communicates at the negotiating table, not via the media.”