In the third round of negotiations – which followed weeks of temporary nationwide strikes – the two sides agreed on an average raise of 2.3 percent for 2011, and 2.55 percent for 2012, said Frank Bsirske, chief of public workers’ union Verdi.
“This is a very fair result by which actual wages can be secured for the workers,” he added.
Head of the civil servants’ union DBB Frank Stöhr said the two sides had maintained a complicated balance that protected both state budgets and workers.
“An actual increase in income – that was our most important goal, and we reached it,” he said, though not all states had yet agreed to apply the agreement to their civil servants.
Finance minister for the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Norbert Walter-Borjans, was one of the state leaders to accept the agreement, calling it a “fair compromise between the strained budget situation and a wage that is attractive for public workers.”
The pact sealed in Potsdam will cost states some €600,000 this year, and €1.2 billion in the next, to provide the wage increase for public workers such as street crews, medics and fire fighters.
But if state parliaments across the country decide to apply the agreement to some 1.24 million civil servants too, additional costs will be inevitable.
But about 200,000 teachers were left out of the contract after unions and employers failed to reach a compromise.
Each state currently dictates their teachers’ salaries, but the Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) wants to create a nationwide labour contract.
GEW’s lead negotiator Ilse Schaad said teachers would not give up their struggle.
“The enforcement of our demand will remain on the agenda until we have reached it,” she said.