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HomeUncategorizedOpinion by Hugo Müller-Vogg: No wage demand justifies spoiling Christmas for millions...

Opinion by Hugo Müller-Vogg: No wage demand justifies spoiling Christmas for millions of citizens

Not even the always confrontational German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) dared to strike during the Christmas season. However, the service union Verdi shows no mercy. Tens of thousands of its members are laying down their work in the last three days before Christmas.

Now the fronts in retail are quite deadlocked. After more than 60 negotiation rounds in the past eight months, there is still no sign of an agreement. Therefore, work stoppages are actually not a surprise – actually.

Verdi strike occurs in the most lucrative time of retail

However, this strike falls right into the Christmas season, when retailers make the highest revenues. Verdi wants to economically harm those who offer exactly what is found under the Christmas trees and on festive tables: groceries and spirits, consumer electronics and textiles, books and games.

Verdi is making life difficult for those who are completely uninvolved, namely everyone who wants to quickly buy gifts. In contrast to GDL with its combative leader Klaus Weselsky, Verdi cannot bring the entire country to a standstill, disrupt supply chains, or make it difficult or even prevent commuters from going to work. There are too few employees organized in the retail sector.

But Verdi’s arm, which is not quite as strong as GDL’s, is enough to cause frustration among customers in the major supermarket and discount chains, at H&M, Ikea, or Thalia. Who wants to stand in endless lines at the cash registers just because union bosses have come up with it. And that too on the days when there is already a lot of hustle and bustle: Christmas parties, Christmas preparations, Christmas shopping.

No wage demand justifies spoiling millions’ Christmas

The strike is rightly one of the fundamental rights; without the possibility of labor disputes, trade unions would be toothless tigers. However, the principles of proportionality must apply. No wage demand justifies spoiling the days before Christmas for millions of people.

In terms of the overall economy, it is insignificant if parents and grandparents, partners and friends cannot “work through” all the wish lists because of the Verdi strike. However, children in particular can be deeply disappointed if Santa Claus or St. Nicholas does not bring what they wished for – because dad or grandma was not served while shopping.

With the strike, Verdi wants to harm employers in the retail sector. The simple calculation: the higher the loss of sales, the more likely it is that employers will give in to the union’s demands. This is part of the logic of labor disputes.

Verdi Strike does not contribute to job security

However, it is questionable whether it is wise to further harm the already weakened stationary retail sector after the pandemic years. This strike certainly does not contribute to job security.

Verdi, like the railway with its announced strikes in January, makes uninvolved parties victims of the wage negotiations. In doing so, union bosses demonstrate their power. They are indifferent to what this means for the people affected. They coldly dismiss sad children’s eyes under the Christmas tree or prevented visits to birthdays due to the suspended rail traffic as “collateral damage.”

In our country, wages and salaries are not set by the state – apart from the minimum wage. They are negotiated by the collective bargaining parties – employers and employees. Unions also have power in this process. This is the only way that collective bargaining autonomy can function.

Verdi functionaries disrupt the festival of peace

Power in itself is neither good nor bad; however, power can be abused. That is exactly what the train drivers are planning when they want to significantly interfere with the lives of those uninvolved for up to five days from January 8 – economically and socially.

Similarly, it does not show responsible use of power when Verdi wants to massively disrupt and hinder what is so inseparably linked to the festival in the days before Christmas – the last-minute shopping frenzy.

Christmas is known as the festival of peace. However, the biblical message of peace is addressed to “people of good will.” Verdi functionaries are probably not meant by that.

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