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Berlin teachers start public sector strike

Planned nationwide public sector strikes began on Monday in Berlin as staff walked out of around 100 schools in a wage dispute. Substitute staff have, for the most part, been put in place.

Berlin teachers start public sector strike
Photo: DPA

Schools informed parents ahead of time and recommended that if possible they keep their children at home on Monday, Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. Some schools managed to find full teaching cover while others had only emergency care in place.

Kindergartens would generally be less affected through the day because the majority of staff were employed by agencies, the newspaper reported.

Strikes should last the entire day in Berlin and then on Tuesday move over to more states. Other areas of the public sector like road maintenance workers are also likely join the picket lines.

Public sector union Verdi is behind the labour action and is pushing for a raise of 6.5 percent for some 800,000 members of public sector workers. It also wants a guaranty of €100 more per month. Discussions are already underway and the third round is set for March 7th and 8th.

Past attempts between Verdi, educational union GEW and the union of police GdP failed to come to an agreement, which Verdi leader Frank Bsirske called “unacceptable.”

Known as “warning strikes” in German, the action is not open-ended but more a day of muscle-flexing to show employers they mean business.

DAPD/The Local/jcw

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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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