A strike could begin early next month, after pay talks broke down between union and management at mail and logisitics provider Deutsche Post. Postal workers are also demanding employment guarantees.
Deutsche Post lost the last of its monopoly rights -- letter delivery -- at the start of this year
German trade union Verdi has called for an unlimited strike to begin May 2 at former state monopoly Deutsche Post. The call comes on the heels of a fourth round of collapsed talks with management.
Verdi, the country's second-largest union with around 2.2 million members, said further so-called "warning strikes" targeting Deutsche Post would continue until a ballot of members on a total strike could take place.
Many Deutsche Post offices have been closed in the past few years
Verdi negotiations chief Andrea Kocsis said the poll was scheduled for April 25-29, with results expected on April 30.
The negotiator warned that workers had already announced their strong backing for a strike.
"The workers are angry, very angry, and they intend to show Deutsche Post that in the days ahead," Kocsis said.
She also accused the company of "pure provocation" in negotiations, pointing to proposals that could lead to the possible slashing of 12,500 jobs.
If approved, it would be the first major postal strike since 1994.
Management wants longer working hours
A Deutsche Post spokesperson said that the company was "still open to talks," and that the two sides should "use the time until May 2 to find a solution."
Earlier on Saturday, April 19, Deutsche Post's head of personnel, Walter Scheurle, said in a statement that management was prepared to continue talks provided that the union drop a demand for no increase in working hours.
Deutsche Post (r.) is facing competition from other mail carriers
Scheurle insisted that Verdi must compromise to maintain the group's competitiveness. Union spokesman Guenther Isemeyer called the Post's stance "a deliberate incitement to conflict."
More pay, work guarantees
Verdi is demanding a 7 percent pay increase and a guarantee of employment until 2011 for Deutsche Post's over 130,000 workers.
Deutsche Post has offered 5.5 percent for the next two years as well as job guarantees, but says employees must agree to work an extra half-hour a week.
The Post has been largely privatized over the past few years, with the German state no longer holding a majority stake -- losing the last of its monopoly rights, in letter delivery, at the beginning of this year.