It can hardly be more bizarre than at Deutsche Bahn: The state-owned company and the railway workers' union EVG have been in collective bargaining for more than three months without anything moving. A 50-hour "warning strike" is imminent, and an intrepid pro reporter is able to avert it in the last few meters, to everyone's surprise.
Officially, there is no "compulsory arbitration" in the collective bargaining disputes of the railways, but this intervention can confidently be described as such. The danger of the rail strike is anything but averted, but now the two brawlers are returning to the negotiating table – at least earlier than planned.
A big winner?
The settlement in court cannot hide the fact that the EDC has gambled away enormously. With cumbersome negotiations, which include 50 other companies in addition to Deutsche Bahn, it inflates an already complex collective bargaining round into a bureaucratic monster. Meanwhile, some 230,000 EDC members are hoping that something will move. Inflation is on the minds of many.
In addition to the waiting, they are now disappointed that the EDC leadership has first sworn them to a rather exaggerated warning strike and now has to call it off without a sound. It has long been clear that this round of tariffs will be expensive for the railways. The howl of joy that the competition from the GDL train drivers' union is intoning is something the strike-plagued rail customer cannot even imagine.
Deutsche Bahn could feel like a big winner after the judicial intervention if the EVG were not right with its core accusation: The fact that a federally owned company pays the statutory minimum wage only through surcharges cannot be explained to anyone.
The company should have eliminated this vulnerability much earlier. In addition, it should give her pause for thought that the judge in the settlement ultimately only cemented an agreement that was already in the room on Thursday evening. This shows how great the mistrust of the EDC is, which must now be dispelled. A quick and fair solution is more urgent than ever.