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    How much do sellers earn

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    The training is popular, but the subsequent pay is far below average. Retail workers are once again going on strike. Verdi is demanding uniform wages for the entire industry – but this is far from the case.

    The goods they sell now cost a third more than they did three years ago. At the same time, most employees in retail receive comparatively low wages. Verdi has therefore been demanding a 13 percent pay rise, at least 400 euros more per month – for almost a year, and the wage negotiations have been stuck. On Friday, sales staff across the country once again went on strike, with the union targeting Edeka in particular. And the next weeks of action are already planned, before Easter.

    Most recently, according to the employment agency, the average gross salary (median) of salespeople was 2,635 euros full-time – half earn more, half less. In 2022, a quarter earned a maximum of 2,140 euros, a quarter at least 3,305 euros. An analysis by the Hans Böckler Foundation, which has close ties to the trade unions, from the same year shows significantly lower figures: the average salary after ten years of work was 2,190 euros full-time. Career starters earned an average of 1,930 euros, after 20 years it was 2,280 euros.

    For comparison: Across all industries, the job portal Stepstone calculated a median salary of around 3,670 euros per month for a full-time position in 2022. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the average salary of full-time employees in Germany was just over 4,100 euros in April of this year.

    Under 2000 to over 5000 euros

    According to the Böckler Foundation, female salespeople earned an average of 210 euros less than their male colleagues. According to the employment agency, the median salary difference was as much as 485 euros for full-time employees. According to Verdi, two thirds of employees in the retail sector are female. The pay group also plays a decisive role in the salary differences; according to union figures, the majority of employees are classified in the two lower groups. Depending on the region, the hourly wage is therefore between the minimum wage and 17.44 euros.

    There are also large regional differences. According to the Böckler Foundation, the range of average salaries stretched from 1,970 euros in Thuringia to 2,290 euros in Baden-Württemberg. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, which ranks tenth in the ranking of federal states, the collective wages in the lower salary group, i.e. for trained salespeople and cashiers, started at just under 1,940 euros in the first year of employment. From the sixth year onwards, employees were entitled to a good 2,830 euros. In the highest group of managers, the collective agreement stipulated between 3,846 and 5,252 euros after the fifth year.

    However, collective bargaining coverage has declined significantly. Of the approximately 3.5 million employees in retail, only a quarter work in companies that are bound by collective agreements, Verdi said in response to an inquiry from ntv.de. Employees who are not bound by collective agreements earn up to 30 percent less, the spokeswoman stressed. In the ongoing negotiations, the union is demanding that the collective agreements be declared generally binding. Then all employers in the industry would be bound by them, not just the members of the parties that negotiate collective agreements. According to union information, the main collective agreements in retail were still generally binding until the end of the 1990s.

    Almost two thirds advise against their profession

    The employers recently offered around ten percent more pay, but for a term of two years – the employee representatives demand a collective agreement that is valid for one year. This is not valid nationwide, but is negotiated regionally. However, the first regional agreement is usually adopted for the other tariff regions.

    In the current round of collective bargaining, however, more and more companies decided not to wait any longer for an agreement, but to pay higher salaries themselves: Rewe was followed by Aldi, Lidl, Kaufland and the Otto Group. However, the union members are not happy with this – a salesperson now gets 92 cents more, Verdi is demanding 2.50 euros more per hour. Voluntary increases are not a solution anyway, but legally binding collective agreements. The employers, on the other hand, point to the general reluctance to buy and complain about the union's lack of willingness to negotiate.

    The job is still in demand among young people, and it is one of the most popular apprenticeships. However, this changes with the years of work: salespeople in retail often find their jobs interesting and varied, especially dealing with people, reports the Böckler Foundation. But many feel underpaid and suffer from the working hours and stress. 63 percent therefore advise against their profession.

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