Public sector strikes hit CeBIT technology fair | News | DW | 08.03.2012
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Public sector strikes hit CeBIT technology fair

Service sector union ver.di is continuing a week of strikes demanding better pay for public sector workers, with visitors to the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover forced to forgo public transit.

Striking workers shut down public transit in the northern city of Hanover on Thursday, forcing visitors to the world's largest technology fair to find alternative ways to get to the convention.

The trade union ver.di has been staging public sector "warning strikes" across Germany all week, with Thursday's emphasis on the northern state of Lower Saxony and Bavaria in the south.

An estimated 20,000 visitors to CeBIT, the information and technology fair taking place in Hanover since Tuesday, were expected to be affected by the strike. The fair organized several alternative transit options for the visitors.

Ver.di is demanding a 6.5 percent pay raise for all public sector workers, with a minimum raise of 200 euros ($264) per month. Employers have said the figure is too high, but have not yet presented a counteroffer.

"It's certainly not ideal that we had to take this action during CeBIT, we're sorry for that," ver.di spokesman Uwe Köhler told the dpa news agency. "But we had to use the time between the first and second rounds of negotiations."

Public transportation workers were to be on the job in the southern state of Bavaria on Thursday, however other sectors of the public sector were to take part in the walk-off.

"Citizens there will be noticing the strike particularly in areas of public service, especially child day care centers," ver.di spokesman Has Sterr said. He added that there were no particular target areas in the state, but that big cities like Munich and Nuremburg would be hit hardest by nature of their size.

The union was planning further action in the states of Hesse, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen and Baden-Württemberg on Thursday. On Wednesday the strikes hit Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

acb/pfd (dapd, dpa)