Public transport strikes on Wednesday

Administrative and maintenance staff at Berlin public transport operator BVG are to go on strike on Wednesday in a protest over pay. Subways, commuter trains, trams and busses will run, however administrative offices and garages will strike on Wednesday from 5am to 3pm.

“It is not our intention to affect the passengers with our strike,” Frank Bäsler, head of negotiations for Ver.di, the German Salaried Employees Union, said told Berliner Morgenpost.

The negotiations are set to continue on February 25th. Union representatives decided to call the strike on Tuesday evening. Frank Bsirske, director of Ver.di, warned of a possibility of nation wide strikes in hospitals, childcare centres, local government administrations, state owned banks, public transport systems and sanitation authorities.

“Unfortunately the unions are not showing any willingness to approach the employer,” Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) told Berliner Zeitung. He added that he hoped that the unions would rethink their “uncompromising attitude.”

Transport workers staged walkouts in early February where they halted public transport in Berlin for about 36 hours, causing chaos and angering commuters. In order to avoid loss of sympathy, Ver.di opted for a softer form of protest.

BVG offered a raise of five percent over 24 months with 40 hour weeks. Bsirske criticized this offer, saying that it would mean a loss in terms of real wages.