[Marxism] All wheels come to a halt, if our strong arm wants it!

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at gmx.net
Fri Oct 12 07:11:32 MDT 2007

Lüko wrote:

> On Fri, 12 Oct 2007 10:29:04 +0200, Johannes Schneider wrote:
> > Negotiations collapsed after train operator Deutsche Bahn's (DB) 
> failure to improve its wage offer, the GDL union said.
>   But BBC did not mention that the GDL signalled readyness to compromise 
> on the demand for a 31% raise,

The 31% raise demand is a myth.

The GDL does not demand a linear (ie for all wage groups) 31% raise. Likewise the average raise demand is not 31%.

For one wage group the GDL demands a 31% pay rise, but at the same time GDL has proposed to scrap all extra payments, thus even for this group it would be a much lesser raise than the 31%.

The employers (Deutsche Bahn) are using the 31% demand just as an example to show how irresponsible the GDL is.

> while stressing that their main demand 
> remains a separate contract for the drives or all of the personnel 
> travelling on the trains, thus breaking the unity of the DB workers.

Lüko, there was never "unity" among the DB workers. They were always split between three unions: Transnet(formerly GdED), GDBA and GDL.

There was a common wage contract, but consistently the demands of the train drivers and the other personel on the trains were disregarded by the bigger Transnet union. The conflict over a special wage contract is not new, but was simmering over years. But the Transnet leadership did not only disregard the train drivers, but sold out their own main members as well by signing a very poor contract. So if there is anyone to blame for breaking unity it is the Transnet leadership.

Likewise the Transnet leader Hansen is supporting privatisation of Deutsche  Bahn, something that is neither in the interest of all Deutsche Bahn employees, nor the wider public. Again the Transnet leadership has to be blamed for bowing down to the DB bosses.

> At 
> the same time, they show not the least sign to work for an industry wide 
> collective contract covering not only Deutsche Bahn, but all the 
> competing private rail operators, too. 

It would be nice to have such a contract, but in the given situation it is totally utopian to think of it. There is no employers body that could sign such a contract, so the unions have to deal with the rail operators seperately. Furthermore, the private rail operators are almost insignificant.

>   What is needed, in my opinion, is a campaign for a united transport 
> workers union,

In the abstract this would be nice to have, but given the class-colaborationist line of the Transnet leadership such a demand is unrealistic today.

First we need a success of the present GDL-strike. This would be the first successful strike over a long time. Than we can start to give this strike as an example how to fight successful and not end in a sell-out, like recently at Deutsche Telekom. If we win over relevant parts of the union rank-and-file for combative unions, we can start to replace the current leadership, who only produced losses and sold out to the bosses. Having that achieved in our DGB unions, we could invite the colleagues from the more combative unions to join us (again).

> and for a single collective contract covering all the 
> railway industry, or better still, all transport branches. At least also 
> a common contract for bus drivers etc -- like many other public transit 
> companies, the Frankfurt city's transit company, VGF, has formed several 
> subsidiaries which do not respect the public service collective contract 
> (TVöD), but another one, and thus are paying 30% lower wages than VGF. 
> The union at VGF is said to have given their OK to that move. No wonder 
> that many particularities try to get the best for their small group. 

Unfortunately the unions can do very little, if a employer decides to leave the employers association, which signed the wage contract. The only chance for the unions is to force a wage contract on that employer by strike action. But if the union is to weak at that particular employer, chances are poor.

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