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Teachers strike in several German states

March 3, 2015

Teachers and other workers in German public sector jobs have gone on strike in several states. It's the first in a series of strikes amid stalled pay negotiations with their employers.

Teachers in Lower Saxony on strike Tuesday
Image: picture alliance/dpa/P. Steffen

The impact of the strikes varied widely from state to state across Germany on Tuesday, with schools in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt most affected.

The head of one of the trade unions involved, Verdi's Frank Bsirske, told German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the nuisance to the public would be limited.

The "warning strikes" were called on Friday following a bargaining round with employers, intended to signal that the unions were not pleased with the progress in negotiations centering on the workers' call for a 5.5 percent increase in pay - or a minimum increase of 175 euros ($195) a month - and better job security.

"As far as that goes, things should at first remain very manageable," Bsirske said of the disruptions across several public service sectors, including university clinics, motorway services and teaching.

Concerning teachers, unions and workers faced differences in negotiations on pensions and the pay scale.

Teachers in Germany can either be employed as fully-fledged civil servants known as "Beamte" or as regular employees known as "Angestellte." Nationwide, about 650,000 teachers have civil servant status and are not allowed to strike, leaving about 200,000 teachers for whom it is possible to do so.

The ratio of civil servant to non-civil servant teachers varies widely across the country because in Germany, each of the 16 states is responsible for organizing its own education system.

se/rg (dpa, AFP)