FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - A new wage agreement has been under negotiation since Thursday for around 135,000 employees of private banks. In view of the sharp rise in prices, the unions want to achieve a significant salary increase. Verdi is demanding 12.5 percent more, but at least 500 euros. The German Bank Employees' Association (DBV) wants an increase of 16 percent or at least 600 euros gross per month.

"We want to make up for the real wage losses of the past two years," said Verdi negotiator Jan Duscheck before the start of the talks, which will be held via video link in the first round. Verdi is aiming to reach an agreement before the end of July. Further dates have already been agreed for June 17 in Berlin and July 3 in Frankfurt. In the previous round of collective bargaining, unions and employers only reached an agreement after more than nine months in April 2022.

Both sides want to avoid a stalemate

"We would have no objection to a quick round of collective bargaining, especially in these times we need planning security," said Carsten Rogge-Strang, Managing Director of the Employers' Association of the Private Banking Industry (AGV Banken). However, the unions' salary demands are "clearly too high" in view of the great uncertainties in the market. A weak economy and the expected fall in interest rates are just two of the many challenges facing banks. However, the employers are "prepared to make fair salary adjustments", said Rogge-Strang.

In addition to higher salaries, the DBV wants to achieve a reduction in weekly working hours: In a first step, the 38-hour week is to be introduced on January 1, 2025, with the same salary. Rogge-Strang said: "We will not go along with a reduction in working hours." The financial institutions are already very flexible when it comes to their employees' working hours and work locations. "We are endeavoring to focus this collective bargaining round, which is taking place in a highly volatile environment, on the core issue of pay," said Rogge-Strang.