There has been a wave of industrial action sweeping Germany over the last few weeks.
Train drivers have been out on strike on multiple days since May over rates of pay. The train company, Deutsche Bahn, is a private joint-stock company with the Federal Republic of Germany being its single shareholder.
Also in May, special needs assistants protested in Stuttgart for better pay. Their union, Ver.di, called for work stoppages in multiple cities in solidarity with them.
Since June 8 the postal service in Germany have been on strike – with no date to return to work until an agreement is reached. The workers voted 92% in favour of strike action. Ver.di, is seeking higher wages and shorter working hours. In addition, the company has set up a new, internal company; and is paying their 6,500 workers lower salaries for doing the same job. This trick has become a trend amongst employers in Germany.
The company is motivated to raise their profits as they have made shareholders an unusual promise: they have promised stakeholders 8% annually. To do this the corporation needs to raise their profits by five billion. At least half of their annual profits go back to shareholders. This pressure comes as a result of the privatisation and floatation of the formerly public service on the stock market in 1995.
Although Germany operates on a federal system this is a national strike and is having a massive impact. The employer has started seeking unpaid scab labour via WhatsApp to help deliver post, and offering €100 vouchers for Amazon in return.
The DPV, a communications union, has balloted their members, who voted in favour of strike action and have begun an indefinite strike.. Staff at Amazon have also voted in favour of strike action. Air traffic controllers have planned strikes this month to protest EU measures to change air space regulation under the guise of lowering emissions – but in the process lower safety standards and costs.
Politically, casualised work and deregulation of conditions has been promoted by the state. Low paid work is now more predominate in Germany than in Bulgaria. A quarter of the workforce are in low paying jobs.
For decades now, wages have not risen in Germany. Much like we have seen with the water movement in Ireland, it has taken longer than expected to see a fight back but these strikes represent the most significant challenge to capital in Germany in the last twenty years and come at an excellent time to link in with resistance in Greece.