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German nursery schools go on strike in wage dispute

The Local Germany
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German nursery schools go on strike in wage dispute
Nursery school workers protest over pay and conditions in the centre of Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Nursery and all-day school workers across Germany have been called on strike in an escalating dispute over pay and conditions.

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Berlin-based trade union Verdi called on employees in nurseries and all-day schools to go on warning strikes all day on Wednesday in a move to gain bargaining power for higher pay. 

North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hamburg are believed to be the main states affected, with some areas relying on skeleton staff to keep services running. 

All-day schools (Ganztagsschulen) are also affected by the walkouts. 

As part of a round of strike actions in the education and social care sector, social workers staged a walkout on Monday.

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Kindergarten teachers, nursery school workers, social assistants and other occupational groups from day-care centres and all-day schools followed suit on Wednesday, while carers for the disabled were expected to go on strike from Thursday. 

READ ALSO: Operations likely to be cancelled as German hospital doctors strike

Demand for better pay

The background to the so-called 'warning strikes', which have been taking place regularly for several weeks now, is the ongoing negotiations over pay and conditions in the education and social service sector. 

Verdi and the civil servants' association DBB are demanding more money and more attractive conditions for around 330,000 workers in these sectors. 

In a previous strike called in March, the union pointed out that social workers are paid around €280 less per month than engineers, despite having the same level of education. 

They also complained of an urgent understaffing issue in the sector that they argued were placing employees under extreme pressure, especially in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. 

The employers' side has criticised the warning strikes as disproportionate and claimed that the two sides are in constructive negotiations, with the next round due to take place on May 16th in Potsdam.

On Tuesday, Verdi leader Frank Werneke announced that there would be longer strikes if the next round of negotiations failed to lead to a breakthrough.

"At the moment we are striking for days at a time in the hope that the employers will finally move," Werneke told Welt.

"If there is no movement at the third negotiation, we will extend the strikes."

READ ALSO: Jobs in Germany: Should foreign workers join a union?

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