Wave of public service strikes begins
Public service strikes began across western German states on Monday morning, with tens of thousands of staff expected to take part in a protest for higher wages.
Verdi, Germany’s biggest service sector union called the strike on Friday, summoning healthcare, childcare, council administration and public transport staff to walk off the job in the states of Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.
Isolated strikes were also expected to take place in other states, Verdi announced on Monday morning.
The strikes are being called “a warning” by the union, which is fighting for a 6.5 percent pay increase for some public service workers.
The most heavily affected city was Frankfurt, Hesse, where a lack of public transport staff brought the city’s trains and buses to a halt from the early hours onwards.
“Transport will be problematic on Monday as there will be no trains or buses for nearly the whole day,” Verdi spokesman Thomas Wissgott said.
Staff in Hesse hospitals, administration and childcare centres were also expected to take part in the strike, bringing the number of those on strike in the state to around 125,000.
In Rhineland-Palatinate, at least five healthcare centres were expected to be out of action, as were rubbish collection services, as thousands of bin-men went on strike.
Transport “should only be disrupted in the Kaiserslautern area” said local Verdi spokesman Jürgen Dehnert, who estimated that around 5,000 public service staff would be on strike in the state.
Smaller-scale strikes were expected in Saarland, where Verdi were expecting around 800 people to take part in strikes. Public transport staff “will not be partaking,” said union spokesman Bernd Olenik.
Negotiations have been scheduled for March 12 and 13, where Verdi will present its demands.