In contrast to the metal sector’s regional approach, the construction sector has
only one centralized bargaining process, which negotiates one joint contract for
the construction industry and the building craft for the whole of Germany.
The first round of talks will take place on February 7th in Wiesbaden. A second round
has been tentatively set for the end of February. The last wage round in 2016
kicked off with an initial claim of 5.9% and ultimately yielded pay increases
(2016/2017) of 2.4% / 2.3% in the west and 2.9% / 2.4% in the east.
The pay gap that still exists between east and west – currently 7% in comparisons
between pay groups (but closer to 20% when the different grouping of workers
in the east and the west is taken into account) – could be another crunch point,
given the agreed aim to equalize pay by 2021, which would require that pay
increases in the east be distinctively higher.
While considerations of competitive
position in world markets and likely the worry that employers shift production out
of Germany in case of excessive settlements help to keep a lid on workers’
expectations in the metal sector, such considerations hardly matter in the
construction sector. Hence workers’ expectations are probably running quite hot,
Thus, we believe the risk that things reach a point such that even arbitration
will not work is clearly higher in the construction sector than in the metal sector.
In such a scenario, fully fledged strikes could probably start by the end of March.