The demand from the railway union for a wage increase of twelve percent and at least 650 euros a month is steep. The turning point has also arrived in collective bargaining. Given that energy prices have doubled and prices in supermarkets have risen by well over ten percent, this should come as no surprise.

The federal government’s attempt to prevent a wage-price spiral was correct. Because higher wages in turn cause prices to rise further, which again leads to higher wage demands. But Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s attempt to prevent such a spiral as part of the so-called concerted action with a tax-free bonus of 3,000 euros failed miserably.

It was not possible to convince all sides of an act of solidarity. This is by no means solely the fault of the trade unions, which are now causing a stir with their high demands and possible strikes. The majority of companies don’t even think about paying their employees the bonus – at least in sectors where you can supposedly afford it without the employees running away.

It is hardly surprising then that some unions are also losing their temper in their demands, believing they can afford to do so from a position of strength. It still remains wrong. Because even the members of the railway union will not be helped once the wage-price spiral has been set in motion. Then soon there will be nothing left of the wage increase that has been struck.

These are special times when a sense of proportion and restraint are required. Politicians must therefore not give up trying to mediate in order to prevent worse things from happening. The 3000 euro bonus was not the right way. However, pushing through excessive individual demands with a potential standstill of the country cannot be the solution either.