German public service workers continue strikes for more pay

21st February 2008, Comments 0 comments

This time, the workers targeted kindergartens.

Berlin -- Workers in Germany's public services sector targeted kindergartens on Thursday in a continuing series of token strikes to press their demands for higher pay.

Several hundred nursery schools and day-care centers across the country were affected by the stoppage called by the Verdi services union, Germany's second biggest with a membership of 2.2 million.

The union is scheduled to hold a fourth round of talks with employees in Potsdam near Berlin on Monday. It has warned of a drawn- out strike affecting public transport and garbage disposal if its demands are not met.

Verdi is demanding 8 percent more pay for 1.3 million workers, with an increase of 200 euros (290 dollars) a month for the lowest paid. The employers are offering 5 percent and aim to increase the working week to 40 hours from 38.5 hours currently.

The union said several thousand members took part in Thursday morning's strike action, which hit Berlin, Cologne, Bremen and Hanover as well as other towns and cities.

In addition to kindergartens, public swimming baths and registry offices were also affected.

German workers have seen real take-home pay stagnate, or even decline, in recent years in response to calls for wage restraint in the face of low growth.

Stronger economic growth of 2.9 percent in 2006 and 2.5 percent last year has provided ammunition for demands in various sectors for a substantial pay rise.

DPA with Expatica

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