Demanding wage raises to offset soaring prices, transport workers in Germany March 27 held their largest strike since the 1990s. Some 155,000 members of Verdi (United Services Trade Union) and EVG (Rail and Transport Workers Union) shut down most train, tram, bus and ferry services for 24 hours.
Verdi wants a 10.5% pay raise and EVG seeks 12%, but the government is offering an insulting 5%, plus a one-time signing bonus. Inflation ran at 9.3% in February, but price hikes on many necessities are much higher. Household energy prices rose by a whopping 32% over the year, impacted by the sharp cut in fuel imports from Russia since Moscow launched its war on Ukraine. Food prices rose by 22%.
Days before the strike, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, sought to scapegoat unionists as responsible for price hikes. If workers “attempt to unilaterally minimize their losses,” by pressing for wage increases, this will lead to price hikes, she said.
But winning a raise doesn’t cause inflation, it just cuts bosses’ profits. Bosses raise prices whenever they can get away with it.
Talks between the unions and the German government continue.