Collective bargaining at DW 2020

Collective bargaining at DW 2020

Background: Collective bargaining in the public sector and at ARD

With results of about 3% per year, our colleagues in the public sector have provided a good template. The agreement reached by the federal states is particularly interesting. There, in addition to the percentage increase in salaries, the result included a plus of about 1% for structural improvements. With this in mind, ver.di DW have set ourselves the task of achieving the good collective agreement result from the public sector for our colleagues as well.
We are not alone: In 2019, collective bargaining will take place at all ARD stations and at ZDF. There will be strikes at almost all stations after the stations' offers were in part far below the results in the public sector. To make matters worse for the colleagues, a debate on broadcasting fees has been unleashed by the right-wing extremists. It goes hand in hand with a general questioning of the public service's programming mandate. Instead of taking a clear position and advocating for adequate funding, many directors are ducking away and trying to pass on the pressure to employees in collective bargaining. The debate is being misused and used as a pretext for lower pay increases and, as at wdr, for structural deterioration.

This attempt can be resisted. In the end, the ARD stations end up with an average annual increase of just under 2.6%, including structural improvements.


Mit Eis gegen kalte Angebote Stefan Tiyavorabun SWR
Warnstreik WDR ver.di Fachbereich Medien Warnstreik WDR

The colleagues of DW show solidarity with those of ARD.

Solidarität mit Streik ARD KB Solidarität mit Streik ARD






April 2019: Action "spring cleaning". The preparations begin.

ver.di DW mobilizes: Full-time employees and volunteers visit colleagues at their workplaces and ask where the problems are. In particular, the aim is to find out which demands for structural improvements should be included in the collective bargaining demands.



Briefkasten KB Briefkasten



August 2019: Survey among all employees


The "spring cleaning" action has resulted in many suggestions. We select those that can be taken as demands for collective bargaining and want to know: Which ones are important to you? And above all: Which demands are you prepared to support through actions and strikes? Are you members of ver.di or do you just rely on those in the unions to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for you?

Because we know that at the end of the day, it's interests that count and the question: What does it cost? That applies to both sides. And the costs also include scratches on the image. The more we stick together as employees, the better off we are. It's a dance on the cutting edge that will accompany us through the collective bargaining.


October 2019: Evaluation of the survey

At the top of the list are higher fees and salaries, especially the increase of effective fees for freelancers (if only minimum fees are increased, many freelancers normally go empty-handed). Permanent employees also want more consideration to be given to lower and medium salaries.

Sick pay for freelancers is at the top of the list of wishes for structural improvements. In addition, there is a desire for job security and guaranteed employment for freelancers, for the elimination of unequal pay for the same work by raising fees and salaries that are too low, and for improvements in sick pay, training honoraria, supplements and more vacation pay for permanent employees.

For trainees, the demand for an increase above a fixed amount and the assumption of the job ticket by DW are most important.

And: Many colleagues not only say "please", but also declare their willingness to participate in actions for these goals and ultimately to go on strike. However, this will not happen for the time being...


Oct 10th, 2019

ver.di DW is calling on DW's management to enter into collective bargaining. The aim is to increase salaries and effective fees by a total of 6% over one year, to make additional structural improvements of 1% in value, to increase salaries by €100 for trainees and volunteers, and to make further improvements for trainees, such as a job ticket, follow-up employment, regulations on vacation, bonuses, and family trips home.

In a collective bargaining info, the structural improvements that we will demand in the course of collective bargaining will be detailed:

  • Sick pay allowance for freelancers from the first day of illness.
  • Improvements in grandfathering and employment guarantee for freelancers.
  • Increase in sick pay subsidy for freelancers.
  • Increase / payment of training honoraria for freelancers.
  • Improvements in supplements (f.ex. for saturdays).
  • Increase in vacation pay for permanent employees.
  • Collective agreement increase not in percent, but via a solidary fixed amount, i.e. the salary grid of permanent employees is increased for all by the same minimum amount of 300€.

In addition, we demand equal pay for equal work. However, this is a demand that must not be included in wage increases, but must be a matter of course. In particular, we support the colleagues from the make-up artist department in Berlin, whose fees must be brought into line with those of our colleagues in Bonn.


Weihnachten 2019 KB Weihnachten 2019




DW is taking its time for now and Christmas is passing....






Bonner Kolleg*innen in Aktion KB Verhandlungstag 1


January 20th 2020, first day of negotiations

The first day of negotiations begins in Bonn with an action by local colleagues who support our negotiating commission. During the negotiations, we present our demands in detail. DW, however, is keeping a low profile. Valuable time is wasted. The second negotiation date is set for Jan. 29 in Berlin.


Aktion 2.Verhandlungstag KB Aktion 2.Verhandlungstag

January 29th 2020, Second day of negotiations

The second day of negotiations is also actively supported by colleagues. Here it is above all the freelance colleagues from the make-up department in Berlin who present their demand to the administrative director for an adjustment of their fees to the fees in Bonn: Equal pay for equal work!

After a joint round of negotiations with the participation of all delegation members, DW withdraws with a small round, with one representative each from the negotiating unions DJV, vrff and ver.di. Time passes...

The meeting drags on for hours without the unions' negotiating teams being involved. It is only in the evening, shortly before the negotiators leave, that the director of administration announces the result in a so-called key points paper.

It contains good results, such as sick pay for freelancers from the first day of illness, effective increase of honoraria, job ticket for trainees and more.

However, the percentage increases of 1.8% in the first year, 2.1% in the second year and 2.3% in the final year are in the lower range compared with other ARD stations. Also missing is a core demand of the ver.di union: a solidarity-based fixed amount. While the vrff had initially called for a so-called "base," it soon backed away from this demand. As a result, ver.di has remained the only union to advocate greater consideration for lower and middle incomes in salary increases.

In view of the short time available, the only thing left to do on this day is to point out that ver.di must discuss this result with its members. The next negotiation is scheduled for February 18, 2020.



ver.di and the VRFF and DJV unions issue separate statements. The VRFF and DJV flyer falsely claims that ver.di has called off the compromise. However, there is no mention of this in ver.di DW's Tarifinfo 4, nor is such a request made to DW by ver.di's negotiators.

Almost 200 colleagues took part in a survey at the beginning of February. 78% think that the pay rise should be higher this time. About 64% of the permanent employees support a solidary fixed amount, about 75% of the freelancers declare their solidarity with the permanent employees on this issue. This result is communicated by ver.di DW to both DW and the other unions.


February 18th 2020, Third day of negotiations

Even before the negotiation date, DW expressed its categorical no to an increase in the total volume beyond the 6.2% of the key points. The VRFF and DJV unions have shown no willingness to support this goal. They are also not interested in a solidary fixed amount.

After intensive discussion, the unions at least agree on a compromise in the preliminary talks on the issue of a solidary fixed amount: since the pay increase agreed in the key points extends over 3 years, the collectively agreed increase is to take the form of a fixed amount in at least one year. The fallback position is an increase in vacation pay for the lower pay groups X to V.

This demand is presented to DW. The DW negotiating commission then withdraws for a long time. Nothing happens. After quite some time, DW announces that it is saying no to a solidarity-based fixed amount. Why DW had to think for hours for this answer remains a mystery.

Due to this delay, the day ends without results. The demand for another social component, e.g. in the form of an increase in vacation pay, has to be postponed until the next negotiation date, which the ver.di negotiating team would like to schedule in February. However, vacation plans and carnival make it impossible for the management to agree the next negotiation date before March 19, according to their statement.


Eispflanzen KB Eisblumen


The negotiation date of 19 March is no longer possible: since mid-March, the Corona virus has had Germany and thus DW under control, both medically and mentally.



June 25th 2020, fourth day of negotiations

Under Corona conditions, the negotiation takes place as a video link. At this date, the structural increases will be determined. ver.di can prevent holiday supplements from being lowered. In return, DW wanted to increase night bonuses between 0 and 4 am. Many colleagues rejected this deal.

DW is massively deviating from the key points of the collective agreement increase: instead of 6.2 %, it is only offering three times 1 % for sure, and wants to distribute the rest according to cash situation. The fixed amount for trainees is also to be reduced from €50 to €35.



 August 17th 2020, fifth day of negotiations

After a short negotiation, nothing goes on. DW insists on a binding increase in salaries and effective fees of only 1% per year. The unions state that the negotiations have failed and accuse DW of breaking its promise.

DW then seizes on a false statement made in a leaflet by the DJV and VRFF trade unions in January and used its press contacts to pass the buck to ver.di. The director and company spokesperson falsely claim that ver.di had already withdrawn from the key points paper or even from the negotiations in the winter.


Mittagspause KB Mittagspause Berlin
Mittagspause Bonn FS Mittagspause Bonn
aktive Mittagspause SQ aktive Mittagspause


Week after week, actions take place, e.g. active lunch breaks to mobilise for strike action on day X. Participation is good, despite the Corona crisis.


GoodJobs_fairPay KB GoodJobs_fairPay


Sept 10th 2020, First warning strike at DW Berlin

300 employees take part in a first warning strike of all three unions on site, another 200 in the home office. News broadcasts are cancelled from 12 noon.


Covid-19 KB Covid-19


Sept 11th 2020,  Warning strike "home office" in DW Bonn

200 colleagues take part in the unions' joint strike.


Sept 22nd 2020, Warning strike at both DW locations

Initially, all three unions had agreed to strike together on that day. On the day before, 21 September, events came to a head: Deutsche Welle receives a promise from the state for adequate funding for the station until the end of 2021. The fear of savings previously put forward by the administrative management can now no longer be used as an argument against wage increases.

Deutsche Welle signals to the unions that it wants to continue collective bargaining. This leads to different assessments by the unions on the question of whether the agreed strike should take place or whether it should be cancelled. For ver.di, a cancellation would be a problematic signal. For apart from a vague announcement that DW wants to negotiate, there is nothing. Neither a written offer nor a binding commitment.

ver.di DW decides to strike as agreed, if only to maintain the necessary pressure for a good result. 2 hours before the strike began, the journalists' association DJV in Berlin distanced itself from the strike. In Bonn, the DJV has already called for a strike and hopes that the colleagues of ver.di will carry out the strike. This is also in order to avoid putting its own strike-ready members in an unpleasant position. Without a strike call from a union, they would be in the precarious position of being involved in a wildcat strike.

Despite the unfavourable starting conditions, about 160 colleagues at both locations took part in the strike of ver.di DW and reaffirmed to stand up for a good collective agreement.

At the end of the day, it shows how important it is to have a union self-image that not only states goals, but is also able and willing to take responsibility.

Warnstreik 2 Berlin 2 ke Warnstreik 2 Berlin 2
Warnstreik 2 Bonn FS Warnstreik 2 Bonn
Warnstreik 2 DP Warnstreik 2 Berlin






Oct 7th 2020, sixth day of negotiations

After Deutsche Welle initially enters the negotiations with an offer that provides for a 1 + x increase, i.e. no guarantee of an increase, in the end both sides move towards each other. It can be achieved that salaries and fees are increased by two times 2.1 % with binding effect. In 2022, there will be a final increase of 2 % before the collective agreement expires after 30 September 2022. There is a special right of termination for this last increase, a compromise that the unions agree to in the end.



November 2020

The committees of the 3 trade unions and the Administrative Board of Deutsche Welle approve the collective bargaining result. The negotiated collective agreement thus enters into force, DW is the last of the ARD institutions to have a valid collective agreement on pay and the 2020 collective bargaining round is over.

But as always: after the collective bargaining is before the collective bargaining.