Workers’ fight secures agreements across German retail sector

05.07.24

Commerce

The benefits of the agreement include higher pay and a significant increase in the pension scheme.

Workers’ fight secures agreements across German retail sector

After more than a year of intense mobilisations and negotations, the United Services Union (ver.di) has successfully concluded collective bargaining agreements for retail workers in all regions across Germany. After concluding agreements in most regions in the past months, the trade union finally signed with employer associations in the remaining ones, Berlin and Brandenburg, on 4 July 2024. 

The agreements mean that full-time retail workers in all regions will have approximately 400 euros more in their pockets. This includes a 40 percent increase in the collective agreement’s pension scheme from 300 to 420 euros annually. Over the entire term, the increase, including the improved pension, amounts to about 14 percent. This is an important contribution to protecting the many women in retail from old-age poverty, said Silke Zimmer, the ver.di federal board member responsible for the retail sector. 

This marks the end of one of the longest and most challenging rounds of collective bargaining in the retail sector. The credit for this achievement belongs to our active colleagues in the workplaces who fought for these agreements with strikes and actions across all regions for over a year, Zimmer noted. Every euro and every percentage point of these agreements were hard-fought. As a result, employees are receiving significantly more money and a noticeable increase in their pension benefits for the time after their working life. 

Meanwhile, collective bargaining negotiations are still ongoing for workers in the wholesale and foreign trade sectors in several federal states. These workers represent about one-third of the approximately five million employees in the trade sector. 

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, praised the achievement, saying, ver.di’s success in securing better wages and pensions for retail workers in Germany is a landmark victory for commerce workers across Europe. This demonstrates the power of tenacious collective action.

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