Collective bargaining dispute at berlin universities: another week of warning strikes

The willingness of student university employees to strike continues unabated. They have been waiting for a pay increase for 17 years.

Demonstration on Wednesday Photo: Stefan Boness/Ipon

In front of the Investitionsbank Berlin on Spichernstrabe, even Katrin Lompscher accepts an information leaflet from one of the demonstrators. Flags of the unions GEW and Verdi, but also of the grassroots union FAU, pass the Senator for Urban Development on this Wednesday afternoon.

They are the flags of the student employees of the universities, who want to increase the pressure in the ongoing wage dispute with their central demonstration between Hohenzollernplatz and the Technical University. They have not received a pay increase since 2001 and therefore want both an appropriate adjustment and the permanent linking of their salaries to the collective agreement for the federal states (TV-L).

Since the negotiations have made little progress for more than a year and the employers’ side let the last round burst without result at the end of May, GEW and Verdi have just called on the employees to extend the current two-week warning strike for another week. Several members of the union’s bargaining committee told the taz that the willingness to strike was so high that further extensions were likely if employers continued to insist on unequal treatment of student employees. And even if negotiations were resumed, the strike could be expected to continue without a substantial offer from the employers.

The strikers see themselves strengthened in their claim for a significantly higher pay scale classification by a decision of the state labor court last week. The court confirmed in the second instance that a student was to be employed in a regular, permanent position paid according to the collective bargaining agreement.

Informal discussion with secretary of state

"700 would already be good," says Yunus ozgur, an employee at the FU and member of the collective bargaining commission, as the first students arrive at the demo’s kick-off location. There will be at least that many on Wednesday, who will vent their displeasure on the streets. ozgur reports that the number of strikers continues to rise. As in the last strikes and in the past week and a half, the unions are registering dozens of new members at the strike locations.

Speakers at the demonstration demand a clear commitment of the Berlin SPD to the TV-L annexation. You know that State Secretary for Science Steffen Krach has scheduled an informal meeting between universities and unions for Friday in order to get things moving again in the negotiations.

The fact that Krach has in the past called a "dynamization" of salaries appropriate, but repeatedly avoided committing himself to the permanent linkage demanded, arouses distrust among some strikers. "We will not be pressured," is therefore the message from the loudspeaker truck. Krach could read on their flyers how important the common status with the other employees of the universities is to the students. Perhaps Katrin Lompscher will give him her copy when the opportunity arises.

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