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Day care workers begin nationwide strike

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Day care workers begin nationwide strike
Photo: DPA
08:01 CEST+02:00
Public day care workers began an open-ended strike in five German states on Friday in an ongoing wage and healthcare dispute. Parents were forced to find last-minute alternatives or stay home from work.

Twenty-six cities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia went without state-run childcare, meanwhile 60 daycare centres, or Kitas, closed in the city-state of Bremen, public workers' union Verdi said.

Workers in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein also took part in the bid to pressure state employers to better wages and healthcare protection for some 220,000 educators and social workers who work at the centres.

Verdi planned the strikes with the Education and Science Workers' union (GEW), which has also helped organise widespread protests for Friday. Verdi head Frank Bsirske is expected to speak at a gathering in Cologne.

Another top Verdi figure, Achim Meerkamp, told broadcaster ARD that the union, which represents some 130,000 childcare workers, is prepared to dig in for a long strike. Depending on how employers react, the union could also call on other workers to strike, he said. On Friday, just 20,000 of these union members walked off their jobs.

“There's still plenty of room to expand,” he said.

Daycare centre workers must have better health protection he said, citing a Verdi study that showed some 25 percent of the workers do not retire in good health. “The illnesses are increasing and the psychological pressures have clearly increased,” Meerkamp said.

He also highlighted massive payment inconsistencies, saying that anyone employed after 2006 makes €700 less per month than those hired earlier.

Meanwhile Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen told daily Ruhr Nachrichten that daycare workers deserve better payment and better career chances.

“Developing childcare must go along with better quality,” she told the paper. “This naturally costs money.”

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