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UNIONS

Unions call nationwide strikes on Monday

Germany is bracing for a series of public worker strikes Monday, following repeated walk-outs the Frankfurt airport and Berlin’s Tegel airport.

Unions call nationwide strikes on Monday
Photo: DPA

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.

DAPD/The Local/mw

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WORKING IN GERMANY

German steelworkers agree 6.5 percent pay hike after strike

Tens of thousands of steel workers in western Germany will get a 6.5-percent pay hike this year - the biggest jump in three decades - in a settlement that could set the tone for industry as inflation soars.

German steelworkers agree 6.5 percent pay hike after strike

The agreed increase would come into effect “from August 1st”, the IG Metall union in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia said in a statement Wednesday.

The 68,000 steelworkers in the industrial region would also receive a one-off payment of 500 euros for the months of June and July, the union said.

The outcome of the negotiations was “the biggest increase in wages in the steel industry in percentage terms in 30 years,” said IG Metall boss, Joerg Hofmann.

Germany’s largest union, IG Metall launched a strike action at steelworks in the west in May after management failed to meet its demands for an 8.2 percent pay increase.

On Thursday at the peak of the movement, around 16,000 workers across 50 firms downed tools, the union said.

READ ALSO: Should foreign workers join a German union?

“Rising inflation” and the “good economic situation” of the steel industry were the basis for IG Metall’s demands.

Consumer prices rose at a 7.9-percent rate in Germany in May, a record for the country since reunification in 1990 driven by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

The smaller number of steelworkers in the east of Germany, who are also seeking an 8.2 percent pay boost, have yet to reach their own agreement.

Negotiations are currently taking place in a number of sectors. In the textile industry, 12,000 workers in the east of Germany sealed a 5.6 percent pay increase at the beginning of May.

Meanwhile, negotiations covering the auto industry, and mechanical and electrical engineering will begin in November.

Despite the agreed rise the onus was still on government to relieve the pressure on workers form rising prices “in the coming months”, IG Metall boss Hofmann said.

Significant wage demands have prompted concerns of a wage-price spiral, where rising pay sustains higher inflation.

The European Central Bank last week said it would raise its interest rates for the first time in over a decade this July as it seeks to stamp out price rises.

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