DB and GDL cut the Gordian knot and agree compromise on conditions

16. September 2021, 10:45 o'Clock

Article: DB and GDL cut the Gordian knot and agree compromise on conditions

Contentious issues of company-wide collective agreement unity and company pension resolved • Wage increase of 3.3% in two stages, pandemic bonus and 32-month term • Seiler: "Agreement keeps DB on track, acknowledges difficulties caused by the pandemic and demonstrates how we value our staff" • DB thanks state premiers Weil and Günther for mediating in conflict

Good news for rail customers and DB employees: Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) have reached an agreement on collective bargaining, thereby ending their dispute over pay. The collective agreement will remain in place for a long term of 32 months, until October 2023.

The two sides reached the compromise situation following confidential and intensive negotiations which saw each of them work towards understanding the other side's view of the contentious points. Talks resumed a few days ago following the intervention of Stephan Weil and Daniel Günther, the premiers of the states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.

Martin Seiler, DB's Board Member for Human Resources and Legal Affairs, says, "We have cut the Gordian knot and found a way to successfully bridge the gap between the interests of our passengers, our employees and the company. The result is a wage agreement that takes the pandemic's damage into account, does justice to our employees' commitment and also includes a sector-leading pension plan. In addition, we have clarity on the application of the German Act on Collective Agreement Unity, and GDL agreements will not extend beyond the companies where they are currently in force. This solution keeps the Group's plans on track and so supports the process of decarbonising transport. I would like to express my gratitude to state premiers Weil and Günther: their mediation made an important contribution to the speedy conclusion of the dispute."  

GDL accepts collective agreement unity

As part of their solution, DB and GDL agreed how they would handle the different collective agreements that exist within the DB Group and abide by Germany's Act on Collective Agreement Unity. GDL will accept a notarised procedure to ascertain the number of union members at 71 companies.

DB and GDL also reached a compromise on the contentious issue of which companies should have collective agreements made with GDL. The union will retain its current presence within DB companies, and it will not expand its activities following this agreement. Within the companies where it is already present, it will now add certain groups of employees, such as staff at maintenance depots. GDL's collective bargain agreements will apply at the companies where its members form a majority. Currently, this is the case at 16 DB companies.

Two-stage wage increase, agreement's long term and pandemic bonus

The agreement will run for a long period of 32 months and provide for a wage increase of 3.3%, which will take effect in two steps. Wages are to increase by 1.5% on 1 December 2021 and by a further 1.8% on 1 March 2023. There will also be a pandemic bonus: depending on their pay category, employees will receive EUR 600, 400 or 300 on 1 December 2021 and an additional EUR 400 on 1 March 2022.

Updated company pension, end of old system

DB will continue to pay a 3.3% employer contribution as part of the company pension plan. The old supplementary pension scheme will be wound up and, after 2022, it will apply only to existing employees. This change sees Deutsche Bahn AG succeed in its plans to substantially reduce spending while at the same time guaranteeing its employees a pension scheme that is among the best in the transport sector.

The most important points:

Higher pay and agreement's term

Wages will increase by 1.5% on 1 December 2021 and by a further 1.8% on 1 March 2023. The agreement will cover a period of 32 months in total, from March 2021 to October 2023.

Pandemic bonus

On 1 December 2021, employees will receive a pandemic-related bonus in line with their pay category. It comes to EUR 600, 400 or 300. The parties agreed on a second bonus of EUR 400 on 1 March 2022.


DB and GDL have concluded collective agreements for train crews and, for the first time, for employees who work at depots and in administration at the following seven rail transport companies: DB Fernverkehr, DB Cargo, DB Regio, DB Regio Netz, S-Bahn Berlin, S-Bahn Hamburg and DB ZugBus Regionalverkehr Alb-Bodensee. GDL collective agreements will not extend to infrastructure companies.

Implementation of Germany's Act on Collective Agreement Unity (TEG)

The parties have agreed that TEG will apply at DB. GDL has accepted a process to determine union numbers at the 71 relevant DB companies. GDL's collective agreements are in force at GDL-majority companies, which currently number 16.

Company pension plan

DB's company pension plan remains one of the best in the sector. DB will continue to pay an employer's contribution worth 3.3% of an employee's salary into their personal plan. The company will end its old supplementary pension system, but a grandfather clause is in place for current employees and anyone hired before the end of 2021.

Further agreements

Employees will be able to choose between a job ticket and an annual fixed allowance for their travel costs. The parties agreed on additional provisions regarding instructors and on working hours.

Further information on the collective bargaining negotiations is available at deutschebahn.com/tarif