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Indefinite strike, extra postage, subcontractors? That depends on the customers

The coming days and weeks will not be easy for either side, for the approximately 160,000 employees of Deutsche Post as well as for millions of customers of the group's letter and parcel delivery service.

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Indefinite strike, extra postage, subcontractors? That depends on the customers

The coming days and weeks will not be easy for either side, for the approximately 160,000 employees of Deutsche Post as well as for millions of customers of the group's letter and parcel delivery service. After all, a ballot is about an indefinite strike, the first in eight years.

The five-week strike at the time was a flop because the demand for the abolition of a low-cost subsidiary was not met at the time. Postal customers are once again threatened with weeks without the usual 50 million letter deliveries and five million parcel deliveries every working day - possibly over the Easter period. WELT answers the most important questions.

As is to be expected, as in many other sectors, the postal service with its 160,000 employees in the mail and parcel business is about money, about a strong wage increase in the company collective agreement and compensation for the high inflation rate. The union Ver.di calls for a 15 percent increase in wages for a contract period of twelve months.

This is offset by this offer from the postal board: An increase in the collectively agreed charges by EUR 340 per month in two stages from the beginning of 2024 and a tax-free inflation compensation premium of EUR 3000 retrospectively from January 2023. According to management calculations, the lower wage groups at Swiss Post will benefit from this with an increase of 20 percent.

According to the statement, the average increase in monthly wages for all employees is 11.5 percent. However, the term of the tariff offer should be 24 months. After three rounds of negotiations, some of which lasted several days, the talks ended on February 10th.

That is exactly the most exciting point at the moment: will Ver.di get the necessary number of votes in the ballot, which will last until March 8th? The law for calling a full strike requires a 75 percent approval rate among union members. Ver.di has an estimated two-thirds of the workforce at Ver.di.

There are no official figures. The much smaller trade union DPVKOM comes to a good ten percent. In contrast to Ver.di, this union speaks of the “best offer from the board for many years” and that some of the demands are met.

Consumer prices also rose sharply at the start of the new year. This is the main argument of the unions in the public sector and in the post office. They are demanding double-digit wage increases in the current collective bargaining rounds.

Source: WORLD

There is only a need for negotiation on details such as the term or the linear wage increase this year. The mood among employees is far from being as uniform as Ver.di makes it appear. The reason for this lies in the different payment at the post office.

Employees with entry-level wages currently earn little more than the minimum wage, long-term employees earn hourly wages of 20 euros and more. For the younger ones, the board's offer is quite tempting. In fact, the older ones lose less than the 15 percent demanded by Ver.di - they would have to show solidarity with the next generation of professionals.

At the weekend, Post Human Resources Director Thomas Ogilvie dared to make statements about outsourcing letter delivery. In contrast to Hermes, DPD or GLS, for example, Swiss Post has so far worked almost exclusively with its own staff. "If Ver.di now questions all of this against the background of short-term maximum wage increases, we will have to rethink our operating model," Ogilvie told the newspapers of the Funke media group.

The manager had previously said that Swiss Post had pushed the limits of what was financially feasible with its offer. The offer represents an "increase that has never been seen before in the history of Deutsche Post AG". In fact, from the group's point of view, there should hardly be much room for maneuver.

In the long term, Swiss Post could work on having letters and parcels delivered not only by its own staff, but also by subcontractors. That would reduce labor costs and increase flexibility. A contractually stipulated exclusion of outsourcing expires in the middle of the year. From then on, Swiss Post could outsource parts of the delivery to other companies.

Regardless of the direct outcome of this collective bargaining round, letter delivery in Germany is likely to change over the course of the year. Basically, it's about the so-called transit times: Today, 80 percent of the letters delivered the day before have to be with the recipient the next day. 90 percent must be reached on the second day. Most recently, Swiss Post has often failed to meet these targets, mainly due to staff shortages. The Federal Network Agency responsible has already got involved.

However, a new postal law is due in the autumn and changes are likely to occur. Two different letter products are conceivable: faster and significantly more expensive letter delivery and slower letter delivery for moderate postage. This distinction already exists in Scandinavian countries and also in Italy.

This would allow Deutsche Post to work much more flexibly and more cheaply. There is support from politics for such a dichotomy of mailing. Estimates say that as a result, a low five-digit number of employees could be fewer needed for letter delivery in the postal group.

These two ways are conceivable: Ver.di could not get the necessary majority of the votes in the vote on the full strike. The offer could then be accepted and the dispute quickly ended. Or if the necessary shares of votes are reached, then there would probably be an indefinite strike in letter and parcel delivery from mid-March. But even then there should still be postal delivery in the country.

Swiss Post should already organize temporary work for this case and try to motivate as many employees as possible to continue working. There are also around 10,000 fixed-term employment contracts in delivery at Swiss Post. It is not foreseeable how many employees would not follow a possible strike. Especially among younger people who have not been working for many years at the post office, that 150 euros more net salary per month should be a not unimportant point in their decision, retrospectively from January.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 5 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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