„I cannot reword“

Beschäftigte im Einzelhandel bei Streikkundgebung in Schwerin: »Die Inflation der letzten Monate frisst die Löhne«

Employees in retail at a strike rally in Schwerin: „The wages are being eaten up by the inflation of the past months.“

Foto: Jens Büttner / dpa

Es geht um den Verdienst von Millionen Beschäftigten: Die Gewerkschaft Ver.di und die Arbeitgeber im Einzelhandel streiten seit Monaten um mehr Geld – doch die regional geführten Verhandlungen in den 16 Bundesländern kommen nicht voran. Der Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE) hat den Unternehmen nun bundesweit empfohlen, die Entgelte schon vor einem offiziellen Tarifabschluss zu erhöhen. Es sei nicht abzusehen, dass die Tarifverhandlungen zeitnah zu einer Lösung gebracht würden, teilte der HDE mit.

Instead, the association proposes a „voluntarily creditable upfront increase“ of wages and salaries by 5.3 percent. Negotiations will continue, however, there is no obligation for companies to implement the proposal. On Monday, the Rewe Group announced as the first player in the retail sector to pay out the additional money. In the wholesale sector, Rewe employees are set to receive 5.1 percent more than before, while other employees will receive the full 5.3 percent.

Einmischung in Konflikt

The HDE, as a national association, involves itself in a conflict with its recommendation, which is actually a matter for the respective tariff regions. The trade union Ver.di expressed criticism in an initial reaction: Such an increase in the current year is „a slap in the face for employees in the retail sector,“ said Ver.di chairman Frank Werneke. „For a saleswoman, this means a loss of 92 cents per hour, which results in a real wage loss. The employees already receive very low wages, and the inflation of the past months further eats away at their wages.“

Mehr zum Thema

The labor union is demanding, among other things, an increase of at least 2.50 euros per hour and a duration of twelve months in the retail sector in all regions. Additional demands vary depending on the federal state. In Berlin and Brandenburg, for example, the union wants to achieve an alignment of the duration of collective agreements. Traditionally, the collective agreements in these two federal states expire later than in the rest of the country.

The negotiations are being made more difficult primarily due to the industry’s strained economic situation. After suffering significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail sector is now struggling with persistent consumer restraint in light of high inflation. In July, the adjusted revenues in the entire retail industry were more than two percent lower than the previous year’s figures.

„I cannot reword“

A salary increase of 5.3 percent is considered a significant step from the employers‘ perspective. Ver.di, on the other hand, emphasizes the situation of the employees. „However, these employees need income increases that ensure their livelihoods and enable them to sustain their lives. They must be able to counter the extremely rising prices,“ says the union.

For weeks, Ver.di has been repeatedly calling for partial strikes lasting several days in various regions. However, these strikes typically do not result in supermarkets and stores having to close – at most, there may be slightly longer wait times at the checkout on those days.