Since January 6 this year, Verdi and the leadership of Deutsche Post have been in negotiations on a new collective agreement for the approximately 160,000 workers who work as mail carriers, parcel deliverers and warehouse clerks in the distribution centers, among others.

Now, after four rounds of negotiations, the Verdi union and Deutsche Post leaders are said to have agreed on an offer and averted further strikes, if bourgeois media such as Tagesschau, Süddeutsche Zeitung and others are to be believed.

But in truth, the social democratic Verdi leadership has, it must be said: once again, betrayed the workers’ demands and their strike. The union went into the negotiations with demands for 15% more pay to compensate for inflation and a share in the company’s profits. Because the German post office, is considered as one of the crisis winners par excellence, which could increase its billion in profit margins still additionally with the fact that the last collective bargaining round in the year 2020 led only to meager 2% wage increases with the employees.

In addition, Verdi demanded an increase in training pay for apprentices and students by 200 euros, as well as a collective bargaining period of 12 months, so that in times of crises and rapidly growing inflation, can also be renegotiated quickly and the workers are not trapped in the collective agreement. In addition, a form of tax-free corona bonus for all employees was demanded.

After Deutsche Post had rejected Verdi’s demands in three rounds of negotiations, made ridiculous counteroffers, and also failed to respond to the warning strikes customary in the FRG, between February 20 and March 8 the 160,000 postal workers voted in a strike ballot on an indefinite strike. In response to the strike vote, the Post Board then threatened to outsource and spin off the mail business. Despite these threats and intimidation, however, a full 85.9 percent of Verdi members surveyed voted against Deutsche Post’s offer and in favor of an indefinite strike. That usually means a strike that ends only when the workers’ demands are met.

But instead of actually going on strike after the fruitless negotiations, Verdi negotiator Andrea Kocsis announced that she would enter negotiations with Deutsche Post again on March 10 with the results of the strike ballot. In contrast to previous days of negotiations, Verdi and Deutsche Post kept their meeting secret, denying workers the chance to mobilize to the meeting location and to militantly press their demands and show their willingness to strike.

The result on which was agreed is a null-round for all workers, with which the Verdi leadership still tries to talk up the result. In 2023, there will be no wage increase for the employees. Instead, there will be two forms of one-off payment, with 1020€ being paid out once in April, and an additional 180€ net being transferred to employees’ accounts from May 2023 to March 2024 as part of the special inflation compensation payment. What sounds good at first is a major step backward for postal workers. The special payment in April and the staggered payment in 10 months are not table increases in wages. This means that these are not fixed, continuous wage increases, but rather tax-free special bonuses that will be missed by the workers again after their term.

In addition the Verdi leadership praises itself for an eight-month advance of the table-effective wage increase to April 2024. That is however only to that extent an advance of the wage increase, if one proceeds from the impudent offer of the work buyers. The Postal Service had planned not to allow another wage increase until December 2024, but Verdi demanded 15% more pay for a 12-month pay period for 2023.
Although the “Postlers” now concretely get 340 euros more in the table starting from April 2024, this neither fulfills the demands of the workers, nor does this increase completely compensate for inflation.

Because even if in bourgeois media the value of inflation is just given at 8.7, it is an average calculation. In the case of food, according to official data, inflation in January 2023 is 20.2% compared to the same month last year, for dairy products and eggs it is 35.8% and for cereal products 22.7%. These food price increases alone, without taking into account the increased energy prices, already show us that the offer of Deutsche Post accepted by the Verdi bargaining commission will lead to enormous real wage losses for the workers. This is because the 340 euros referred to will only lead to wage increases of 16.1% and 11% in pay groups 1 to 3, which will be eaten up by inflation. The Taz even calculates the following consequences in an example: “An unmarried postal employee with a previous gross income of 3,000 euros will receive about 8.2 percent more pay in 2023; calculated over the entire term of the collective agreement until the end of 2024, the total is about 9.2 percent. That’s a far cry from the 15 percent that Verdi had demanded for 2023 only.”
So the result is not a victory for postal workers, but their further impoverishment, while Deutsche Post AG reports new record revenues.

The promised improvements of the Verdi leadership turn out to be eyewash, if one considers that the new collective agreement has a term of 24 months. In other words, exactly as long as the Post Executive Board would have liked. The method of the social democratic union leadership is obvious: After three rounds of negotiations and warning strikes in which Deutsche Post AG made no offer that would have been even remotely acceptable, the Verdi leadership is bargaining with the strong result of almost 86% for an indefinite strike to enter secret negotiations again, this time unknown to the public and especially to the postal workers, in order to reconcile between the workers and the capitalists with the threat of an indefinite strike and to persuade the postal board to make an offer that the union leadership can somehow present to the workers. This approach is not accidental, but stems from the idea of social partnership, class collaboration between workers and capitalists with unions as the mediating element that guarantees the interests of the capitalists. This is corporativism.

Many post-workers organized in Verdi shared their disappointment and anger on Twitter and some made their resignation public because they felt betrayed.
But it doesn’t have to be like this, we can break this vicious circle, for this we need combative unions that stand on the class standpoint of the proletariat and fight irreconcilably for the interests and demands of the workers. What it can look like when trade unions, even in part, really stand up for the workers, can be seen right now in France, where millions of workers are taking to the streets for their rights.

But the postal strike doesn’t have to be over either; contrary to what the bourgeois media monopolies tell us, the wage agreement is not through yet. Between March 15 and 30, the 160,000 postal workers will vote in a new strike ballot on whether to accept the result.

It is to be hoped that the postal workers will reject the fraud in the vote and go on an indefinite strike for the fulfillment of all demands. Meanwhile, various union initiatives and combative individuals in Verdi are publicly calling for the offer to be rejected.