Karlsruhe. In the fourth round of negotiations and following long and tough talks, the bargaining parties in Baden-Württemberg's energy sector reached agreement on the early morning of January 30, 2004. Despite the difficult situation, a creative package of wide-ranging personnel decisions was put together that provides a satisfactory result for both sides. In particular, the parties succeeded in avoiding restructuring redundancies, due not least to the reduction in working time within the EnBW Group in the form of a "4.5-day week".
From January 1, 2007 all employees will receive a guaranteed Christmas bonus equivalent to one month's remuneration. This measure will replace a whole series of different special bonuses and payments. Employees will work their way up to this bonus in four equal annual stages.
The agreed pay scales will remain in force for 24 months divided into two phases: a one-off sum of 700 euros for the first 10 months paid out with the April salary; and an increase of 1.8 percent for the period thereafter. There will also be new regulations for performance-based bonuses and company pension provisions, as well as a separate contribution to cost reduction by the management and the smaller group companies. Together with the previously agreed socially acceptable personnel cutbacks affecting up to 2,140 employees, today's agreement is expected to reduce personnel costs for the EnBW Group by around 337 million euros in real terms up to the year 2006.
Dr. Bernhard Beck, the EnBW Management Board member responsible for personnel and employment and head of the EnBW negotiating team, is reluctant to accept congratulatory wishes: "This is a victory for common sense – not for one side or the other!" The CEO of EnBW, Prof. Dr. Utz Claassen, also believes that the two sides came out equal: "This is an extremely convincing win-win situation; there are only winners. The company has achieved its financial objectives, and the workforce has also won by avoiding restructuring layoffs, by agreeing on the Christmas bonus and by retaining a company pension. This is the best possible combination of economic interest and social responsibility. The outcome of the negotiations shows that even extremely complex problems can be resolved to the benefit of both sides through creativity and innovation.
Ver.di was an extremely tough negotiating partner but also showed itself to be a modern and future-oriented trade union. For my part, I am also happy that the "4.5-day week" laid down in the collective agreement has helped us to avoid redundancies due to restructuring. The result is encouraging both for the employees and the future of EnBW."