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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure DE-2020-22/1136 – measures in Germany

Pact for German Rail

Bündnis für unsere Bahn

Country Germany , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 26 May 2020
Context COVID-19
Type Tripartite agreements
Category Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery
– Support for spending, stimulus packages
Author Birgit Kraemer (Hans Boeckler Foundation) and Eurofound
Measure added 15 September 2020 (updated 23 November 2020)

Background information

In view of declining passenger transport figures and a decline in revenues, the federal minister for transport, German Rail (Deutsche Bahn, DB), the employer organisation AGVMove (of which the DB group and DB-related companies are the only members) and the railway and transport workers union EVG concluded a pact aimed at settling conditions for safeguarding the business continuity of Deutsche Bahn. The second trade union in the sector, the engine drivers union GdL, refused to sign the pact, demanding that DB should first revise management practices.

Content of measure

The tripartite statement contains:

  • the federal minister for transport promises state subsidies for DB. Under the condition of reasonable and socially acceptable negotiations of the collective bargaining partners, the federal minister aims to get approval from the budget commission of the parliament - and from the EU Commission - to raise the threshold of DB's debt and to carry part of these debts (state aid). The state will also invest in railway infrastructure building as a a measure aimed at promoting recovery and socio-economic transformation.

The company will contribute by not paying any bonus and any additional flexible premia to its top mangers and to the top managers of its affiliates and by considering reductions in human resources and material resources including job cuts. The Pact for German Rail does not cover temporary agency workers or self-employed individuals. The trade unions pledge to complement the planned measures with collective bargaining .

Use of measure

No data on impact on employment numbers or employment conditions. On the basis of the Pact for Railway, German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) recently approached the German government to demand additional financial support for short-term work.


  • Employment retention
  • Pay freezes or cuts

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Employees in standard employment
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Trade unions
Employers' organisations
Company / Companies
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


The Pact for German Rail is the outcome of an ad-hoc social partner initiative with the aim to mitigate the potential impact of the coronavirus crisis on employment with Deutsche Bahn. Relevant employers and employer organisations were involved, as was the sectoral trade union EGV. The competing trade union GdL refused to participate.

Views and reactions

The social partner organisations involved, including the sectoral trade union EVG, supported the measure. The sectoral trade union GdL rejected the measure.

Sectors and occupations

    • Economic area Sector (NACE level 2)
      H - Transportation And Storage H49 Land transport and transport via pipelines

This case is not occupation-specific.



Eurofound (2020), Pact for German Rail, measure DE-2020-22/1136 (measures in Germany), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.