Collective bargaining workers in Germany achieved only slight increases in their salaries in the second quarter. Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, the fees rose by 1.5 percent, as the Federal Statistical Office announced. Such a low value was last observed in the fourth quarter of 2017.

However, the reason for the low wage increase was not the Corona crisis: Short-time working and other reductions based on it are not yet taken into account in the statistics of the collective wage agreements. According to the Federal Office, it is rather a so-called statistical base effect. This describes the difficulty of maintaining high growth rates over the long term. In the same quarter of 2019, very high special payments were due, which will not be repeated this year.

Special payments in the past year distort statistics

Although it has turned out to be small, the increase in collectively agreed wages is still higher than the growth in consumer prices. These increased by 0.8 percent between April and June. In the first quarter of the year, consumer prices rose by 1.6 percent compared to the same period of the previous year, while collective wages rose by 3.2 percent.

The increases have turned out very differently depending on the industry. Collective earnings in agriculture, forestry and mining developed above average at 2.9 percent each, in trade at 2.8 percent and in the information and communication sector at 2.6 percent. In the manufacturing sector, on the other hand, growth was only 0.3 percent. However, this is due to the fact that no percentage increase was decided in the 2019 collective bargaining round, instead special payments were agreed. In the construction industry, collective wages even fell by 1.6 percent. This is also a result of the comparison with the values ​​in the 2nd quarter of 2019, which were above average due to a one-off payment of 600 euros.

Conflict over wages in the public sector is looming

In the public sector, in particular, employees still have to be prepared for lower increases than was the case in previous years. In 2018, federal and municipal employees were able to achieve an increase of 7.5 percent, while state employees received an increase of eight percent in 2019, after there had previously been only slight increases.

This year, the unions are calling for employees in the public sector to increase wages by 4.8 percent with a minimum increase of EUR 150 per month. However, municipalities in particular are financially troubled by the burdens of the Corona crisis. It is true that municipal employees in particular have expectations of a significant improvement in income due to overtime in the crisis, for example in the health and care professions. But the municipal employers reject the wage demands as "completely excessive".