Germany hit by widespread strikes

Widespread public sector strikes hit 11 of Germany’s 16 states on Tuesday, as garbage collectors, nurses, and bus drivers all walked off the job as a warning to government employers.

Germany hit by widespread strikes

Even the big IT trade fair CeBIT was affected as hundreds of buses and trains in Hanover stood still from 3:00 am to 7:00 am, a spokeswoman for the city’s public transportation network said.

“We expect that there will be delays until the traffic begins to run smoothly again,” she said. Other cities in Lower Saxony including Göttingen and Braunschweig face full-day public transportation strikes.

Bus and train drivers in Ulm in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg also joined the limited strike, which is intended to increase pressure on public employers to meet union wage demands. And in the eastern state of Saxony a wide cross-section of public sector workers, including trash collectors in Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig, joined the labour protest.

“Garbage collectors, nurses, stage hands, and daycare workers finally want their part of the economic upswing,” said a spokesman from service sector union Verdi in Leipzig.

In Brandenburg, the state that surrounds Berlin, 480 employees from the state’s extensive system of waterway locks for boat traffic walked off the job. In the German capital itself, street cleaners and waterworks employees took to the picket lines.

The wage talks for Germany’s 1.3 million public sector employees will enter a critical stage in Potsdam on Thursday. Verdi is demanding a wage increase of 8 percent, or at least €200 more each month for workers. The public employers, however, have only offer a hike of 5 percent – spread over two years – but only will extended working hours each week.