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Berlin: Agreement Between BVG and Union Averts More Walkouts

In Berlin, the city’s main public transport provider BVG, its subsidiary company BT and the Verdi union have signed an agreement. Their big dispute about the salaries for 14,500 employees and their working conditions is resolved.

More warning strikes will not take place. The 2.9 million passengers who use the BVG’s buses, trams, ferries and U-Bahn trains every day will not have to worry about warning strikes anymore.

After months of negotiations and three walkouts which had partially paralyzed Berlin, the BVG and its subsidiary agreed to increase their employees’ salaries by 8 percent from January 1st, retroactively. The minimal increase is 350 Euro (393 U.S. Dollars or 302 Pounds) per employee.

The classifications for several tasks BVG employees are responsible for were changed and bonuses were increased. Even though the Verdi union’s main demand, a decrease of weekly working hours for employees hired since 2005, was not met, its chief negotiator agreed to the last offer BVG representatives made.

Both sides welcomed the agreement. German-language media quoted Dirk Schulte, a high-ranking BVG manager, who said the breakthrough acknowledged “the exemplary commitment of the employees for mobility in the city”. Verdi’s chief negotiator Jeremy Arndt said the new labor agreement was a big step ahead.

The agreement increases the BVG’s labor costs substantially. All in all, the state-owned company will have to come up with an additional 102 million Euro (114 million Dollars or 88 million Pounds) per year.

According to statements by both parties, the new labor contract will be valid until July of 2020, while the agreement about salaries expires in December of 2020.

The BVG owns almost 1500 buses. Many of them are double deckers. There are 152 bus lines, 10 metro lines (U-Bahn), 22 tram lines and six ferry lines operated by subcontractors. In 2019, the company intends to employ 500 additional drivers and other staff.