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"We're More Determined Than Ever"

After six weeks of striking, Verdi union members in Stuttgart say they are resolute about staying off the job until their demands are met. Below are some voices from Verdi members at Tuesday's demonstration.

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The mood was good at the protest in Stuttgart on Tuesday

Jürgen Rönsch, 37

Cemetery maintenance worker

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Jürgen Rönsch

"The strike is more justified than ever. It's not about these 18 minutes a day, it's about our jobs. Everything's being cut little by little, and no one can tell us that the 40-hour week won't lead to more cuts. We want to keep these jobs for the future, for young people and we're not going to back down. It's not easy for me financially, but I accept the losses. I'm ready to strike for as long as it takes and I think we have more support than the press says we do."

Bärbel Illi, 47

Verdi union employee

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Bärbel Illi

"It's going well and up to now, there hasn't been any strike fatigue. We're ready to do this until we reach the results we want, and we can go on for a while since we have enough money in the strike fund. I hope that this is a new beginning for the union, since the strike has brought us a lot of new members. More people see now what the union is there for, why they need it. I hope that it's a revival for us."

Heike Fischer, 48

Child-care worker

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Heike Fischer

"The press always focuses on parents who are against the strike, but where I work, out of 50 parents, there are just two who are against the strike. But the press never talks about that. I think it's a conscious smear against our strike. The parents stand with us, because they know what kind of quality we bring to the center, and they don't want that quality to be reduced."

Helmut Zahner, 53

Civil engineer

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Helmut Zahner

"We still think it's absolutely necessary to strike. We regret that employers are taking such a hard-line position and that it's become a political fight in the meantime, especially when you see that the states governed by the Christian Democrats are being so unrelenting. I'm employed by the city in the civil engineering office and for 10 years I've watched how jobs have been cut. That's why we don't believe the mayor when he says this extension of working hours won't lead to job cuts. There are some sectors where a 35-hour work week is the norm. Others in the private sector have 40, but employees are compensated financially for that. I don't buy the argument that everyone has to work longer these days."

"The longer we strike, the more determined the strikers are. You could feel it; there's a certain rage there and that helps strengthen our determination to keep going. We're more determined than ever."

Gabriele Krische, 44

Kindergarten teacher

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Gabriele Krische

"I am resolute because I don't want jobs to be cut where I work. We already have enough unemployed people here and I can't be part of a policy that leads to even more people losing their jobs. I think that's severe and cruel and that's why I'm standing here. It's very difficult, but in my profession, a very important aspect is to instill in children a sense of social responsibility. That means we have to share the work and we can't stand by and just watch while others lose their jobs."

Heike Marwit, 29

Child-care worker

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Heike Marwit

"We're lucky that the parents where I work are understanding of what we're doing -- when I hear what has happened in some other places, where parents have blockaded exits and not let child-care workers leave the facility. I think if we give up now, the whole thing wouldn't have made any sense and we shouldn't have bothered in the first place. I wish it would have been wrapped up sooner, but what can we do about it?"

Lutz Bötzer, 45

Special education teacher

Die Proteste in Stuttgart gegen Arbeitzeitverlängerung

Lutz Bötzer

"I've paid union dues for 25 years and never been on a strike. I've got to get my money's worth! I can only recommend that everybody strike because you see so many people that you hardly ever come across in this big bureaucracy where we work, especially since they've cut out the company outing, where you'd see people at least once a year. Now on strike, we're forced to see each other."

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