Unions call nationwide strikes on Monday
The Local · 2 Mar 2012, 15:14
Published: 02 Mar 2012 15:14 GMT+01:00
Ver.di, the public workers’ union, said the warning strikes will take place all over the country following a breakdown in talks between the union and state, local and federal governments.
The union wants a 6.5 percent wage hike or a minimum of €200 per month increase for its two million members. It also wants trainees to be hired on without any contract limits and for trainee compensation to increase by €100. The union, one of the world’s largest, said salary talks will resume March 12.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich described the negotiations as “difficult” and said the union’s demands were not realistic.
And Thomas Böhle, the lead negotiator for local municipalities, said German cities cannot afford the union’s demands and that cities were having to cut services, raise property taxes and fees due to their miserable deficit situation.
With €129 billion in debt, local governments are facing their highest shortfalls ever. What the union is asking for is not even close to what is doable, he said.
But Ver.di chief Frank Bsirske said inflation has increased faster than public sector salaries and that has resulted in weaker buying power for public workers. “That cannot continue,” he said. He called for a “clear, significant and durable real salary improvement with a social component for the lower income groups.”
The union is being backed by the left-leaning Social Democratic Party and the Left Party.