Successful industrial action in the midst of a global pandemic – Against all odds, ver.di’s collective bargaining campaign, including a nationwide strike, brought better working conditions and pay for 87.000 public transport workers across Germany.
Launched in 2019, the #TVN2020 campaign aimed to reverse cost-cutting trend in the sector, and improve terms and conditions for all UPT workers in Germany through a national sectoral CBA, as until now the agreements varied considerably between different states (to read more about specific demands click here).
The campaign included training for activists, three action weeks in the workplaces and communications activities aimed at the general public. Thanks to the campaign, the ETF affiliate gained several thousands of new members. ver.di also joined forces with the German Fridays for Future movement to promote the role of public transport in preventing climate change.
A nationwide strike was called on 29 September 2020 after ongoing negotiations with employers throughout 2020 culminated in the German Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations’ (VKA – Vereinigung der kommunalen Arbeitgeberverbände) refusal to enter into negotiations over a national sectoral CBA.
Though the second wave of COVID-19 infections forced the union to put the demand for a national CBA on hold, the campaign finally paid off. 11 state-level CBAs with better, more harmonised working conditions have been signed so far, and negotiations for five agreements are still ongoing. Additionally, the employers agreed to establish a working group to talk about nationwide equal standards in autumn 2021.
We congratulate ver.di for their determination in fighting for better conditions for public transport workers in Germany, despite difficult circumstances. Public transport is essential in ensuring climate sustainability and social cohesion and it will not do without proper funding. Employers and public authorities across Europe need to step up to this challenge!