German public-sector workers take to the streets | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 05.03.2012
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German public-sector workers take to the streets

Warning strikes of public-sector workers have begun in a number of German states in a bid to make employers accept wage hikes of at least 6.5 percent. More protest action is set to follow.

Local traffic has almost come to a standstill in a number of German states, as public-sector workers took to the streets on Monday to demand higher wages. Most affected by the warning strikes have been the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.

"Local public transport will be crippled throughout the day," said Thomas Wissgott of the public-sector union ver.di. "No subway trains and trams will be running in the states affected," Wissgott told the dpa news agency.

The strikes have also been joined by employees in municipal administrations, pre-school facilities, nursing homes and several health care institutions.

Those joining the strikes are throwing their weight behind union demands for higher pay. Public-sector workers are hoping to secure a wage hike of at least 6.5 percent as a result of protracted collective bargaining.

Not with us, employers say

But employers have so far dismissed the demand as unrealistic and out of proportion and have so far failed to offer a deal that employees could live with.

"We expect employers to put a new offer on the negotiating table, said ver.di spokesman Christoph Schmitz. ""It's a provocation that no decent offer was made during a first round of talks in Potsdam last month," Schmitz added.

The next meeting between the negotiating sides is scheduled to take place on March 12. Until then, ver.di is planning to ratchet up the pressure on employers by extending the current strikes to other states.

As early as Tuesday, protest actions will get under way in two more states, notably Baden-Württemberg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

hg/gb (dpa, dapd)