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Germany: difficult start to collective bargaining in insurance sector
Planet Labor, 20 September 2019, n°11367 -

On Thursday 19 September, a first meeting was held between social partners in Germany’s insurance sector: the trade union Verdi on one side and the employers’ association of insurance companies in Germany (AGV) on the other. The topics covered at the meeting were the renewal of the branch agreement, which is set to expire at the end of the year, and the agreement on wages, which expired on 31 August. The trade union, which put forward its demands at the end of April, is calling for a pay rise of 6% over 12 months for the 170,000 workers in the sector. The previous deal, negotiated in 2017, ended up with a pay rise of 3.7% that took effect over two years. In parallel, Verdi is also proposing a pay increase of 80 euros per year for apprentices. Lastly, the union is calling for the introduction of an option allowing workers to convert part of their pay rise into days off – an option that already exists in the metalwork and chemicals industries – as well as the establishment of workers’ right to return to full-time work after a period of part-time work. Martina Grundler, the lead negotiator for the trade union, says: “It is time to close the huge gap that is growing between net salaries and companies’ sizeable profits. This is all the more pressing as we ask workers to give more to adapt to digitalisation, and as work and pressure weighs more heavily on them.” For their part employers have remained discreet so far but they have pointed in particular to the sector’s problems, especially as regards digitalisation and the issue of global warming. Yesterday AGV did not submit any counterproposals, which did not help to quell unions who were already unhappy about receiving no response to their demands tabled in April 2019. It is highly likely that the current negotiations will unfold in a similar way to the previous ones, which resulted in warning strikes and a haphazard result after four tedious rounds of negotiations. The next meeting will take place on 30 October in Hanover.