Vivantes clinics and Charité in Berlin: Matthias Platzeck becomes “moderator” in the collective bargaining dispute between Vivantes’ subsidiaries – Berlin
In the strike at Berlin’s state-owned hospitals, a vague solution is emerging. The talks with the Charité have progressed well, the Verdi negotiators announced on Tuesday, and the Vivantes clinics are still far apart. Exactly there, in the wage dispute over the Vivantes subsidiaries, nun Matthias Platzeck is supposed to help as a “moderator”.
The Brandenburg ex-prime minister and SPD politician will not officially be an arbitrator. The union does not want that because strikes usually have to be suspended during mediation. Verdi negotiator Ivo Garbe confirmed, however, that Platzeck was accepted as a mediator who would moderate the talks between the strikers and the hospital board.
The strikers are demanding higher wages for kitchen, cleaning and transport workers in the Vivantes subsidiaries. Platzeck had already successfully mediated in a month-long labor dispute at the CFM, the corresponding subsidiary of the Charité, in 2021.
Giffey: Platzeck has negotiating skills
Platzeck’s new commitment goes back to the initiative of the social democratic election winner in Berlin, Franziska Giffey. “He has a lot of experience and negotiating skills. Negotiating means approaching each other, ”Giffey told Tagesspiegel. “I am therefore glad that both Verdi and Vivantes accept Matthias Platzeck as a mediator.”
The employees organized in Verdi at the state-owned clinics, i.e. the Vivantes houses and the Charité university medicine, are fighting on two tariff fronts: They are demanding new staff quotas in nursing in both clinic groups and the full collective agreement for the public service for the Vivantes subsidiaries (TVÖD .)).
Giffey spoke to the strikers on Tuesday. The SPD politician had previously met with nurses. Now, with the nimbus of the designated head of the Senate, it became more concrete. After a private conversation, Giffey, the Verdi negotiator Garbe, who is responsible for the Vivantes daughters, and Dana Lützkendorf, the Charité intensive care nurse, appeared together.
Giffey wants to discuss funding for the hospitals in coalition negotiations
Giffey said the wage conflict still has to be resolved under the incumbent Senate, if only because a new state government might not be sworn in until December. It is possible that the red-red-green Senate is still releasing investment funds, in particular to facilitate renovations for the Klammen Vivantes Group – and so the money needed there can be reserved for staff.
The background to this is the “dual financing”, according to which the law requires that the health insurance companies pay for personnel and pharmaceuticals, the federal states for buildings and technology. But for many years the Berlin Senate paid less than the clinics needed for renovations, which is why – roughly simplified – personnel resources were invested in buildings.
SPD election winner Giffey announces that she will discuss the fundamentals of clinic financing in coalition talks with the Greens, the Left, the FDP and the CDU. The new, self-led Senate will work at the federal level to abolish the case-based lump sums. So far, clinics have received fixed lump sums per diagnosis from the health insurances, including a certain amount for each treatment.
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In May, Verdi had called for publicly binding staff quotas in a “relief collective agreement”. Time and again, nurses, midwives and medical-technical assistants reported about the shortage of staff in everyday ward routine. The stress, which is also dangerous for the patients, was hardly increased by the walkout. After a 100-day ultimatum, Verdi called for an indefinite strike. The care strike has been running since September 9th.
Beds are usually blocked in each of the eight Vivantes hospitals and at the three main Charité locations. Thousands of treatments have been postponed, and in some cases patients have moved to other hospitals for their predictable operations. So far it has been estimated that the union demand ultimately means that Charité and Vivantes will have to employ up to 15 percent more nursing staff, each with more than 600 specialists.
Read more about the fight in healthcare at Tagesspiegel Plus:
As reported, the hospital director recently published other figures: According to the Verdi request at the university clinic would result in 1200 additional full-time nurses in three years, in the larger Vivantes group even 2800. The Charité announced a few days ago, despite a nationwide shortage of skilled workers 700 new positions were offered and “pushed to the limit of what was possible”.
Political dimension of the care strike
At Vivantes, in addition to care, it’s about the subsidiaries. For the cleaning and kitchen staff there, Verdi demands the public service collective agreement (TVÖD). The Vivantes board announced that they had unsuccessfully offered a € 47 million package to manage the 1250 employees who work without TVÖD in the higher tariffs. Vivantes operates clinics, homes and a nursing service and closed 2020 with a loss of 30 million euros.
The industrial action is one of the longest in the German healthcare system. Not only is the length of the strike unusual, the strike also has an immense political dimension. Representatives of all parties sought contact, the red-red-green coalition show solidarity with the nursing staff. Still, the Senate remained tough; whether there are new private commitments for the clinics remains to be seen.
Verdi and the clinic director could not agree on the usual emergency service agreements. The strikers announced that acute cases would be treated. Senior doctors had put pressure on Verdi, and the Vivantes board even tried to take legal action against a strike in the subsidiaries.