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BVG strike: on Friday, only the S-Bahn in Berlin leaves until 12 o'clock

Berlin –

Passengers of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) must look for another means of transport on Friday. The Verdi trade union called its members at the land-based company for a warning strike on 15 February. Work interruption should last from the start of the operation in the early morning to about 12 o'clock and affect all areas – both subways & trams and buses.

"Consideration must be given to significant obstructions in the local traffic of the capital," said Verdi Monday. "If the employers remain in their blockade, further industrial action is likely," said Verdi Secretary Jeremy Arndt. The following warnings will take longer than on Friday.

The Verdi Tariff Commission has unanimously accepted the strike. The most recent work stoppage at the BVG has been more than six years old. "In 2012 there was a warning strike on a Saturday," said the Verdi secretary. It is understandable that a strike now takes place on a working day: "In the weekend, a labor dispute would create less pressure." In the interests of BVG users, however, it was decided to announce the warning four days in advance.

Warning sign will break large holes in the transport network

Whether there is enough time for the BVG to organize an emergency operation remained open on Monday. "That should be very difficult," it said. Suburban trains are not affected, they belong to the Deutsche Bahn. The regional trains are not operated by the BVG. Passengers can avoid this means of transport. In spite of this, the warning strike will tear a large hole in the transport network. Last year the BVG transported more than twice as many passengers with 1.1 billion passengers as the S-Bahn. Many S-Bahn lines have already been overloaded. If BVG customers get on the train on Friday, it will get really busy.

But the trade union Verdi sees no alternative. If she had been optimistic after the first round of negotiations on January 28, her assessment turned out to be more negative after the second, almost three-hour meeting on Monday. "We were hoping that employers would make an offer," said Arndt. "That nothing has happened has already surprised us." Instead there was a claim paper with 28 points, which means an "attack on collectively agreed security systems".

It is clear that the employers wanted to melt in performance, for example for employees with a longer-term job or unsuitable for driving. In the main conclusion they had shown "no noticeable concession". Verdi requires that the weekly working hours for employees who have come to the BVG after 2005 are reduced from 39 to 36.5 hours – with full pay.

Number of employees at BVG and BT grows by 1350

This would require 500 additional employees, said Claudia Pfeiffer, Managing Director of the Municipal Employers Association (KAV). The number of employees at BVG and BT is expected to grow in any case by about 1350. "This is simply not feasible for the employer," said the negotiator on the side of the employer. The job market was empty.

Negotiations on the new collective labor agreement for the 14,500 employees also concern a fairer classification in the wage and salary scale. The Christmas bonus of currently 1,400 euros, which is only transferred after one year of membership, must be paid earlier.

For the fourth question, the KAV saw no chance of an agreement at the beginning of the discussions. Again, the trade union has demanded a one-off payment of 500 euros for its members of the BVG. All in all, all required improvements would increase the annual personnel costs of the BVG (most recently around 570 million euros) by 60 million euros, according to Verdi.

"Not only does the capital not work in many areas, there are now monthly warnings," said Florian Swyter of the FDP. It is "perfectly understandable" that employees want to make their voices heard. But the money is limited. "That is why it is now up to politicians to bring the parties together to negotiate the demands and financial possibilities, where the reigning mayor and the economics senator must finally take the initiative," said the FDP member.

On Wednesday, the nurseries are tight

On Wednesday, the trade unions GEW and Verdi, the union of the police and the IG Bau called on the state employees to take a full warning strike. For parents, this is especially noticeable in the crèches. Many Kita-Eigenbetriebe state-owned facilities are completely closed or offer only partial care. "There will be more strikers than in the half-day warning text at the end of January", stressed GEW spokesperson Arne Schaller. At that time, about 2,500 educators had stopped their work.

On Wednesday, the more than 16,000 paid teachers in public schools were called to strike. The reason for this is the negotiations of the trade unions with the tariff community of the countries. The trade unions require six percent more wages. For Berlin educators, who earn little in the national comparison, a special salary leap is required. The next round of negotiations will take place at the end of February. At the BVG, the talks are continued on 5 March.

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