German lock operators have downed tools, blocking several canals in the Ruhr valley industrial area. The strike action has been called for four days and comes in response to planned job cuts.
German lock keepers began a four-day strike, blocking cargo shipping mainly on canals in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia, German public sector union Verdi announced Tuesday.
The fourth strike action within two months was in protest of government plans to restructure Germany's inland navigation authority WSA, Verdi said.
The German Infrastructure Ministry wants to cut 3,000 of about 12,500 WSA jobs by 2020. Verdi is calling for an agreement which should include wage and job guarantees, as well as an early retirement scheme.
Meanwhile, German cargo shippers are calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel to resolve the dispute between the labor union and the ministry.
The existence of a rising number of the mostly family-owned businesses was threatened by the strike, said Jens Schwanen, the head of shipping lobby group BDB.
“Verdi has completely lost sight of the consequences of the strike,” he told German dpa news agency.
Noting that the strike had caused losses in the double-digit million euro region, Schwanen also said that shippers might sue the union for damages because the strike wasn't hitting the government but uninvolved third parties.
uhe/hc (dpa, Reuters)