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'Declaration of war': How will Germany's 'warning strikes' affect you?

James Jackson
James Jackson - [email protected]
'Declaration of war': How will Germany's 'warning strikes' affect you?
Kitas in Berlin will likely be affected by upcoming strikes in Germany. Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP.

Germany’s trade union for public sector workers Ver.di have announced two weeks of so-called “warning strikes” but how will they affect members of the public?

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The strikes, called warnstreike in German, are expected to particularly affect those wanting to access public services in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Berlin, as well the east German states and some cultural institutions in Lower Saxony.

In Hamburg, the strikes will take place in state-run companies, schools, district offices, job centers and the fire department.

The union has called on public sector employees in the Hamburg Mitte district to stop work on Tuesday, and in the North district on Wednesday, and in Wandsbek on Thursday.

In Schleswig-Holstein, universities as well as bodies that work in coastal protection and road construction will be among those affected.

Cultural institutes will also be affected.

Employees working the early shift in the Konzerthaus Berlin are also set to stop work, while theatre, museum and university workers in the Lower Saxon cities of Braunschweig and Oldenburg will strike.

Kindergardens or “Kitas” and universities in Berlin will also see strikes, the head of Ver.di told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. Berlin already saw a strike in state run kindergardens two weeks ago. Some state hospitals will also have to delay non-urgent medical operations. Lessons will probably be canceled in Berlin and east German states as teachers will go on strike too.

READ MORE: Why are Berlin Kitas in a state of crisis?

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If you have children in kindergarden or school or a scheduled operation in hospital then you could be affected so keep an eye open for any announcements.

'Declaration of war'

Although Ver.di have called the strike a Kampfansage or “declaration of war”, these warning strikes are quite normal in Germany.

Workers in Germany have a legal right to collective agreements on pay rates and working conditions to be negotiated between employers and employees. Warning strikes are a way for employees and trade unions to show their collective strength and achieve better pay and conditions in the negotiations by showing their willingness to strike. The negotiations are about salaries for around 1.1 million employees.

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The service sector’s union is demanding a 10.5 percent raise in income for public sector employees, or a minimum wage increase of €500 more per month. Trainees should be paid €200 more monthly and trainees should be taken on for an unlimited period.

The chief negotiators for Germany’s federal states Hamburg's Finance Senator Andreas Dressel have said they cannot afford this pay rise.

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