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Cashier in a supermarket: union finds voluntary increase too low

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

Collective bargaining in the retail sector is deadlocked – more and more retail companies are unilaterally raising wages and salaries. Following in the footsteps of the Rewe Group, Aldi, Lidl, Kaufland, the Otto Group (Otto, Bonprix, Baur) and the discounter Netto Nord have now also announced that they will follow a recommendation from the German Retail Association (HDE) – and raise fees by 5.3 percent from October.

Collective bargaining for the millions of retail workers has been making little progress for months. At the beginning of the week, the HDE had therefore recommended that companies increase wages before an official collective bargaining agreement and offset the increases later with the collective bargaining agreement. It is not foreseeable that the collective bargaining will be brought to a solution in a timely manner, the HDE emphasized. The Rewe Group, which also owns the discounter Penny, had already announced such a step on Monday.

Union wants 2.50 euros more per hour

Among other things, the union is demanding at least 2.50 euros more per hour and a term of 12 months in the retail sector in all regions. The negotiations are made more difficult above all by the tense economic situation in the industry.

After parts of the retail sector already suffered significant sales losses during the corona pandemic, retailers are now struggling with the ongoing consumer reluctance to consume in the wake of the Russian attack on Ukraine and the associated price increases. In the retail sector as a whole, price-adjusted sales in July were more than two percent below the figures for the same month last year.

Ver.di boss Frank Werneke had once again rejected a pay increase of 5.3 percent for retail workers at the beginning of the week as insufficient. Such an offer for the current year is "a slap in the face for retail workers," he said on Monday. That's 92 cents an hour for a saleswoman, and that means a loss of real wages. Workers are already receiving very low wages, and the inflation of recent months is eating away at wages."

The discounter Netto Nord is a subsidiary of the Danish Salling Group, the largest retail company in Denmark. It is not identical with Netto Marken-Discount, which belongs to the Edeka Group and is much more common in Germany.