BVG strike: On Friday, only the S-Bahn in Berlin

BVG warning strike
:On Friday, only the S-Bahn goes

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  • Peter Neumann

  • Martin Klesmann

The union Verdi has announced a warning strike by the BVG staff for Friday (archive picture).

The union Verdi has announced a warning strike by the BVG staff for Friday (archive picture).

Photo:

dpa / Stephanie Pilick

Berlin –

Passengers of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) have to search for other means of transport on Friday. The Verdi union has called its members to the country company for a warning strike on 15 February. The work stoppage should last from the start of operation in the early morning until about 12 o’clock and affect all areas – both subways and trams as well as buses.

“It is to be reckoned with considerable obstructions in the local traffic of the capital,” said Verdi on Monday. “If the employers remain at their blockade, further industrial action is likely,” announced Verdi Secretary Jeremy Arndt. The next warning strikes will take longer than on Friday.

The Verdi Tariff Commission has unanimously passed the strike. The most recent work stoppage at the BVG has been more than six years old. “In 2012 there was a warning strike on a Saturday,” said the Verdi secretary. It is comprehensible that a strike will now take place on a working day: “At the weekend, a labor dispute would create less pressure.” In the interest of the BVG users, however, it had been decided to announce the warning strike four days in advance.

Warning strike will tear large gap in the transport network

Whether there is enough time for the BVG to organize an emergency operation remained open on Monday. “That should be very difficult,” it said. Suburban trains are not affected, they belong to the Deutsche Bahn. The regional trains are not operated by the BVG. Passengers can avoid this means of transport. Nevertheless, the warning strike will tear a big gap in the transport network. Last year, with 1.1 billion passengers, the BVG carried more than twice as many passengers as the S-Bahn. Already many S-Bahn lines are overloaded. If on Friday now also BVG customers crowd in the trains, it gets really busy.

History of the BVG strikes:No subway goes anymore

Full, as rare: The Berlin S-Bahn is still struggling with a shortage of staff (archive picture).

Full, as rare: The Berlin S-Bahn is still struggling with a shortage of staff (archive picture).

This Saturday is a strike: The warning strike of the BVG employees puts the bus, subway and tram traffic in Berlin lame. Passengers have to change to the S-Bahn or taxi or walk (archive picture).

This Saturday is a strike: The warning strike of the BVG employees puts the bus, subway and tram traffic in Berlin lame. Passengers have to change to the S-Bahn or taxi or walk (archive picture).

On this Saturday, the employees of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) entered a 15-hour strike at 4:00 am (archive picture).

On this Saturday, the employees of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) entered a 15-hour strike at 4:00 am (archive picture).

The BVG employees demand higher wages.

The BVG employees demand higher wages. “We deliberately chose Saturday for the first strike action in order to minimize the impact on passengers,” said the union Verdi (archive image).

During the raid, all passengers must use suburban and regional trains that do not belong to the state-owned SNB (stock photo).

During the raid, all passengers must use suburban and regional trains that do not belong to the state-owned SNB (stock photo).

There is a scoreboard at the Zoologischer Garten bus station with information about the warning strike of the 5,000 BVG employees (archive image).

There is a scoreboard at the Zoologischer Garten bus station with information about the warning strike of the 5,000 BVG employees (archive image).


“Our patience is exhausted,” Verdi explained. The collective bargaining committee had also rejected on Wednesday the recent offer of the local employers’ association (KAV) for the 12,500 employees as insufficient. Some striking workers now sit in a bus and hope for wage increase and an inflation compensation (archive picture).

The fact that the first warning strike on Saturday lasted 15 hours, met with strong criticism (archive picture).

The fact that the first warning strike on Saturday lasted 15 hours, met with strong criticism (archive picture).

But the union Verdi sees no alternative. If she had been optimistic after the first round of negotiations on January 28, her assessment turned out to be more negative after the second, almost three-hour appointment on Monday. “We were hoping employers would make an offer,” said Arndt. “That nothing came, has surprised us already.” Instead, there was a claim paper with 28 points, which represents an “attack on the collectively agreed security systems”.

Obviously, the employers wanted to melt off achievements, which, for example, would benefit employees with longer-term employment or unfit for driving. In the main claim, they had shown “no discernible concession”. Verdi demands that the weekly working hours for employees who came to the BVG after 2005 be reduced from 39 to 36.5 hours – with full pay compensation.

Number of employees at BVG and BT to grow by 1350

This would require 500 additional employees, said Claudia Pfeiffer, Managing Director of the Municipal Employers’ Association (KAV). The number of employees at BVG and BT is expected to grow by about 1350 anyway. “This is simply not feasible for the employer,” said the negotiator on the employers’ side. The job market was swept empty.

Negotiations on the new collective bargaining agreement for the 14,500 employees also concern a fairer classification in the wage and salary scale. The Christmas bonus of currently 1,400 euros, which is transferred only after one year affiliation, should be paid earlier.

For the fourth demand, the KAV saw no chance for an agreement at the beginning of the talks. Once again, the union has demanded a one-time payment of 500 euros for its members from the BVG. All in all, all the improvements demanded would increase the annual personnel costs of the BVG (most recently around 570 million euros) by 60 million euros, says Verdi.

“Not only is the capital not working in many areas, now there are monthly warning strikes,” said Florian Swyter of the FDP. It is “completely understandable” that workers want to make their voice heard. But the money is limited. “That’s why it is now the task of politics to bring the parties together to negotiate the demands and financial possibilities. Here, the Governing Mayor and the Senator for Economic Affairs must finally take initiative, “said the FDP member.

On Wednesday, the daycare centers are tight

Already this Wednesday, the unions GEW and verdi, the union of the police and the IG Bau have called the state employees to a full-time warning strike. For parents, this will be felt especially in the day care centers. Many facilities of the state-owned Kita-Eigenbetriebe will close completely or offer only a partial care. “There will be more strikers than in the half-day warning strike at the end of January,” emphasized GEW spokesman Arne Schaller. At that time about 2,500 educators had quit their work.

On Wednesday, the well over 16,000 salaried teachers at state schools are called to strike. Reason are the negotiations of the unions with the tariff community of the countries. The unions demand six percent more wages. For Berlin educators, who earn little in the nationwide comparison, a special salary jump is required. The next round of negotiations will take place at the end of February. At the BVG, the talks continue on 5 March.