Before the concerted action in the Chancellery to deal with the high cost of living, the demands for relief are increasing.

SPD leader Saskia Esken demanded that people with low incomes in particular should be supported "with permanent wage increases" - in line with this, Verdi boss Frank Werneke ruled out collective bargaining restraint on the part of the unions.

The design of a possible energy price cap was also discussed.

On the initiative of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), representatives of the federal government, trade unions and employers have been invited this afternoon.

Following the model of the concerted action at the end of the 1960s, the alliance wants to work out solutions for the high burdens on the population.

However, concrete results are not yet expected.

Esken said on Deutschlandfunk that with the Ukraine war inflation had "solidified" and that people with low incomes in particular had to be supported "with permanent wage increases".

Despite high inflation last year, wages increased by only two percent in 2021.

The federal government will “under no circumstances” intervene in collective bargaining autonomy.

Tariff round without handbrake

Werneke said on ARD that it was "no time for a collective bargaining handbrake".

It can be assumed that prices will rise permanently and remain at a high level, said the Verdi boss.

Therefore, the collectively agreed wages would also have to increase “with a lasting effect”.

It is the declared aim of the unions to "secure" the income of their members.

The idea of ​​capping energy prices is controversial.

The head of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Yasmin Fahimi, had suggested at the weekend that a basic need for electricity and gas should be set for every adult and every child, for which there would be a price guarantee.

If you use more than that, you have to pay more.

The FDP expressed doubts.

State-mandated amounts of energy are "not the right way, because needs and living conditions are very different," said energy expert Michael Kruse of the "world".

Rather, everything must be done to ensure that there is no shortage.

Green parliamentary group leader Julia Verlinden was also skeptical about Fahimi's initiative - it's all about saving energy.

"It is crucial that we use the available gas effectively and at the same time reduce consumption," she told the "Welt".

This is the only way to keep prices stable.

Stagger energy prices socially?

Union faction Vice Jens Spahn (CDU), on the other hand, called a staggering of energy prices worth considering.

If low-income earners had to pay a lower price for part of their gas bill, it would make “a difference” for them, he said on Deutschlandfunk.

He also suggested "targeted tax cuts, especially for small and medium-sized incomes" and a reduction in the electricity tax.

"Strong" support for Fahimi's proposal came from the left.

The Union in particular lowered expectations before the two-hour meeting.

The talks could only be about "getting a common understanding of the problems," said the parliamentary manager of the Union faction, Thorsten Frei (CDU), on ARD.

"That's fine, but it doesn't replace government policy."

IG Metall boss Jörg Hofmann told the Funke newspapers that he didn't want to "put too high expectations" on the first meeting.

"If we could come to a basic understanding of the other side, that would be worth a lot." He forbade political advice on collective bargaining.