Warning strikes planned in German public sector

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The strike is intended to fight pay inequality among 700,000 staff working at public institutions.

Berlin -- Public sector workers will stage warning strikes starting next week to turn up the pressure in wage talks, the head of the German service sector union Verdi said Friday.

Frank Bsirske told the Saechsische Zeitung that the industrial action was aimed at ironing out pay inequality among the 700,000 staff working for public institutions.

"A nurse at a university hospital earns less than a nurse at a locally run hospital," he said.

Road maintenance offices, statistics bureaus and police stations will also be targeted by the work stoppages, he added. "Police officers will actively take part in the demonstrations."

Bsirske criticized the fact that employers had failed to put forward a new offer after two rounds of pay negotiations.

"We are still searching for a solution at the negotiating table,” he said. “But the warning strikes are a sign how seriously those affected are with their pay demands. But if the employers give in, we won't need to strike."

The DBB -- the civil service union -- and fellow union Verdi are pressing for an eight-percent pay hike.

In November, a strike by 3.6 million metal and electronics sector workers, which threatened to deal a blow to Germany's ailing economy, was narrowly averted after unions and employees agreed to a 4.2-percent wage increase.

Germany's powerful unions have been criticized for seeking large wage increases at a time when Europe's largest economy is in recession and firms are struggling to stay afloat in the face of weak demand and scarce credit.

The unions argue that decisive wage hikes would put cash in people's pockets and boost consumer spending.


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