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Germany

Newspapers, Journalist Unions Reach Compromise

Trade unions and publishers agreed Wednesday to wage increases and cuts in benefits for some 14,000 journalists. Starting in June, staff journalists at newspapers in Germany will see their salaries increase by 1.3 percent, while vacation pay will drop from 100 to 80 percent. The eighth and final round of negotiations, which lasted 16 hours, was accompanied by strikes in many parts of the country. VerDi trade union representative Frank Werneke was not entirely satisfied with the result, he said, though unions had managed to block an increase in working hours and measures that would have allowed employers to avoid applying the final wage agreement, which is binding until late 2006. Employers negotiator Werner Hundhausen said the compromise was an important step toward necessary changes in wage policies "that better respond to the economic conditions in the newspaper trade." The German press has been suffering for years from a decline in advertisements.