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US Army civilian workers demand wage hike

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Photo: ver.di
15:52 CEST+02:00
Protestors handed out fake zero dollar bills at US military bases across Germany on Wednesday to demand a raise for the 22,000 civilian workers employed by the Allied armed forces.

According to the trade union Verdi, the employees have gone without wage increase since 2010, though they have received one-time payments the past two years.

The union handed out the symbolic dollar notes at bases in Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens, Ramstein and Germersheim to raise awareness ahead of labour negotiations being held later this month, according to a Verdi statement.

But the salaries of civilian US Army employees in Germany are subject to budget developments across the Atlantic, with the US Defense Department one of those affected by the so-called government sequestration.

"In the end it's the US Congress that decides. That's what we're being told repeatedly," Verdi spokesman Jürgen Dehnert said.

The US military employs 18,000 German workers of which over 8,000 work in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate alone. The remaining civilians, known as Local Nationals, work for the French, British and Canadian forces.

No agreement could be reached during the first round of negotiations on 26th February. The next round is planned for 23rd April in Bonn.

"Everyone, including US service personnel, will be affected by sequestration, but I can't say how that will impact these wage negotiations," US Army public affairs officer Bruce Anderson in Wiesbaden told The Local. "Soldiers will see training curtailed. Everyone in the command will see reductions in services, maintenance and operation of facilities and other effects."

He said US civilian employees were likely to be forced to take leave without pay for 14 working days between now and the end of September, equal to a loss of three weeks' wages. But German civilian employees would not be be subject to the furlough.

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Verdi is demanding a cost of living compensation and a raise in line with German wage developments.

The Local/mjl

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