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CHILDREN

Day care strikes continue despite new date for wage talks

Striking public day care workers chose to continue putting pressure on state employers Friday for better wages and working conditions despite agreeing on a new date for negotiations.

Day care strikes continue despite new date for wage talks
Sacks marked with weights demonstrate physical strain for teachers. Photo: DPA

In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia some 2,500 educators and social workers did not show up for work at 200 day care centres, known as Kitas.

Next Tuesday state employers, public workers’ union Verdi and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) plan to meet in Frankfurt for renewed negotiations after weeks of strikes have forced parents across the country to find alternative care for their children. The offer came from the employers after talks last week failed.

“It is good that there will be negotiations,” a Verdi spokesperson in Düsseldorf said, adding that strikes still wouldn’t be stopped. “We hope that the employers have learned from this and are interested in reaching a speedy agreement with us.”

The strikes are part of an ongoing dispute by unions to get better wages and healthcare options for 220,000 educators across the country.

According to union figures, only 58 percent of social workers and 26 percent of educators see themselves reaching retirement in good health under the current working conditions.

The unions refused an offer from the German Association of Municipal Employers (VKA) after negotiations in Berlin two weeks ago, saying it was “not worthy of negotiation.”

Depending on salary bracket, the unions want a wage increase of between €200 and €1,000, but state employers offered a total increase of €220.

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CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

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Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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