The outgoing head of Verdi, Frank Bsirske, sees a decisive task for the union in counteracting the loss of members.
"Churches need believers, parties need voters. And trade unions? Trade unions need members," said Bsirske on Monday in his last annual report at the federal congress in Leipzig. Unions are only strong as membership organizations. But this is exactly what is lacking, said Bsirske.
Verdi is losing members. Every year, significantly more people leave the union than join it, as Bsirske added. According to the report, there are also signs of a decline of around 20 percent in 2019.000 members. In the year of its founding, Verdi had 2.81 million members; last year it had 1.97 million. Verdi wants and needs to take countermeasures there, said Bsirske, who will step down after 18 years at the helm. On Tuesday, his deputy Frank Werneke (52) is to be elected as his successor. At the national congress, around 1,000 delegates will discuss the focal points of trade union work for the coming years until Saturday.
Bsirke is also concerned about the crumbling collective bargaining coverage in Germany. While 80 percent of employees in western Germany were covered by collective bargaining agreements in the early 1990s, the figure is now only 59 percent, and only 46 percent in eastern Germany. "This can’t go on," said Bsirske. "Strengthening the collective bargaining relationship is the order of the day."The unions would have to make pressure from below, support the policy. In the future, public contracts from the federal, state and local governments should only be awarded to companies that are bound by collective bargaining agreements, demands Verdi as well as the DGB trade unions.
Verdi, "the union of the 1000 professions", has had numerous successes in recent years. In addition the penetration of a collective agreement counts with the Irish cheap airline Ryanair just like the training remuneration of beginning Logop?sterinnen or X-ray assistants at university hospitals. Bsirske also announced that the strikes at Amazon, which have been going on for more than six years, will also be continued. The impression that Verdi is fighting a battle against windmills is wrong. Since there have been walkouts at the U.S. mail-order giant, he says, there have been regular wage increases there.
In his report, Bsirske also reiterated his call for a basic pension, spoke out in favor of raising the minimum wage to twelve euros, and called for an end to the "black zero" policy. Germany needs investments – in social housing, the education system, broadband expansion, care and public infrastructure.