Opposition leader calls for public sector raise amid strikes | News | DW | 06.03.2012
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Opposition leader calls for public sector raise amid strikes

The German trade union ver.di has led strikes in the public sector across northern Germany, while the head of the country's largest opposition party called on the government to heed their calls for better pay.

The head of Germany's largest opposition party on Tuesday called on the government to give a pay increase to public servants, as workers in four states staged a one-day strike demanding better wages.

Sigmar Gabriel, chairman of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), said in an interview with Bavarian public broadcaster Bayern2 that the government had drastically reduced spending in recent years, particularly surrounding employees.

"We're noticing ... that it's becoming more and more difficult to find good workers - in hospitals, in nursing, in the entire public sector," he said. "Good work demands good pay, otherwise we won't be able to find people to do these jobs."

Sigmar Gabriel speaks at party conference

Gabriel said public sector wages must be competitive to attract good workers

Gabriel's comments came on a second day of warning strikes led by Germany's second-largest union, ver.di. Civil servants walked off the job in the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg on Tueday. Day care centers, hospitals, utilities, municiplal governments and trash collection were all affected by the strike.

Ver.di is calling for a 6.5 percent raise for public sector workers, with a minimum raise of 200 euros ( $264) per month. Management, which has not presented a counteroffer, has branded the raise as far too much.

Gabriel declined to comment on the 6.5-percent figure, but said the amount of the raise should be left up to negotiations between unions and employers.

Strikes on Monday hit the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, while the most populous state of North-Rhine Westphalia had strikes planned for Wednesday.

acb/pfd (dpa, dapd)