A wage increase of an average of 11.5 percent: What the Verdi trade union has now won in the wage round for 160,000 employees of Deutsche Post not only sounds like a lot – it is also anything but an active contribution against the threat of consolidation of inflation. Nevertheless, the agreement also sends some encouraging signals that could help to dampen excessive pessimism.

Of course, this includes the statement that the 11.5 percent does not refer to 12, but to 24 months. And it turns out that Verdi still sees itself capable of compromise even in a very heated atmosphere – at the post office there had already been a member vote for indefinite strikes. The fear of an uncontrolled escalation dynamic, borne by memories of the 1970s, has not yet come true.

An interesting solution

This signal radiates above all to Verdi's similarly heated wage dispute in the public sector, which reaches the decisive phase at the end of March. In the economy as a whole, the importance of the public service is greater, as it employs more than 2.5 million people. However, Verdi's initial wage demand had a volume of 15 percent here and there.

This makes the solution achieved at Swiss Post all the more interesting beyond its area. This includes: The regular, permanent tariff increase does not start until 2024, but then immediately with 340 euros per month for all tariff groups, which corresponds to those 11.5 percent. Something similar would come out with an increase of 5.5 percent (or 170 euros) in 2023 and 2024. In fact, however, the "missing" first stage is filled by means of the option of tax-free special payments. Preference for employees: they receive the first stage of the package at net value.

It will be interesting to see whether public sector employers can also imagine such a model. So far, they have mainly rejected Verdi's preferred approach of a uniform increase amount for all tariff groups. They will probably soon have to decide whether they will remain tough on this point – also at the price that an agreement with Verdi will then be all the more expensive for them.