Red card for Federal Minister of Labour Heil - no political wages in care for the elderly


The Federal Minister of Labour, Heil, joined forces with the ver.di trade union to press massively for a generally binding collective agreement for nursing care for the elderly. For this purpose alone, a new employers' association was founded on his initiative (BVAP - Bundesvereinigung der Arbeitgeber in der Pflegebranche), whose members, however, only employ a small minority of the approximately 1.2 million nursing staff. This association had concluded a collective agreement with ver.di for the first time in February 2021, which was to be imposed on the entire sector with the help of the Federal Minister of Labour in accordance with § 7a AEntG.

The necessary participation of the churches became an own goal. They should have agreed to the AVE and thus paved the way for the generally binding minority collective agreement as majority procurers. However, the churches were not involved in negotiating the "collective agreement on care for the elderly" concluded by ver.di and BVAP and do not conclude any other collective agreements. Instead, they regulate their working conditions independently on the basis of their right to self-determination (the so-called Third Way).

In addition, the effectiveness of the collective agreement agreed between ver.di and BVAP, as well as its representativeness for the sector, is already questionable. The collective bargaining capacity of ver.di in the field of (geriatric) care is currently the subject of legal proceedings. With the nursing commission, there is also a procedure that has been tried and tested for years for setting appropriate working conditions in nursing care for the elderly. The special features of this sector, with facilities from the private, public and church sectors as well as independent welfare work, are taken into account there. Virtually all the players in the industry - and ver.di too, incidentally - sit at the negotiating table in this commission. However, the extension of the ver.di/BVAP collective agreement would have fundamentally called into question the work of the commission. These concerns were supported not least by two legal opinions commissioned by the BDA and the bpa employers' association.

It was therefore right that the church commissions did not approve the project on February 25 and 26, 2021, despite intense political pressure.

This unprecedented action from parts of the federal government was a blatant attack on collective bargaining autonomy and an attempt to hold an entire industry hostage, which thrives on a large diversity of carriers. This would also have been a dangerous blueprint for other sectors. A politically desired "state nursing care" that ignores economic contexts, sector-specific features and the viability of the nursing facilities, the contributors to the nursing care insurance system and, not least, the people who need nursing care is anything but sustainable and serious. The nursing care commission is the right instrument for setting standards for pay and working conditions in nursing care. The important question of how the steadily rising additional costs in nursing care are to be financed in the long term has also been brought to the fore again.