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Two German supermarkets to go on strike ahead of Easter weekend

The Local Germany
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Two German supermarkets to go on strike ahead of Easter weekend
Archive photo shows a Lidl shopping cart in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance / Marijan Murat/dpa | Marijan Murat

Staff at two German discount supermarkets are planning a national strike on Thursday in the ongoing push for higher wages.

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The two supermarkets - Lidl and Kaufland - both belong to the Schwarz Group, the largest food retailer in Europe.

Despite lobbying by union Verdi, the employer “has been refusing any talks and solutions with the employee side for weeks," Verdi's Silke Zimmer said in a statement.

The plan to strike on Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday, or Maundy Thursday) is meant to send a particularly strong signal. It falls before the four-day weekend, which already sees shops and supermarkets closed for three of those days.

READ ALSO: What's open in Germany over the Easter weekend?

Gründonnerstag, in addition to Saturday, is therefore one of the most popular days for customers to stock up on supplies.

The Schwarz Group expects increased sales in the Easter business, and according to Verdi, more than five million employees in the retail sector and their families contribute to this turnover. 

"If you have good sales, you can't cut back on your own employees," says Zimmer. 

Verdi is calling for a wage increase of at least €2.50 per hour for retail employees in the current round of collective bargaining and a 13 percent increase in wages for employees working at the supermarkets’ wholesale and foreign trade centres, or a minimum of €450 extra per month.

Most recently, Verdi had also called for strikes at popular retailers Rewe and Edeka. In mid-February, almost 10,000 Verdi employees went on strike for a day, but Edeka was still able to open all its shops. However, customers saw many empty shelves as a result.

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Germany has been getting hit by strikes in all sectors nearly every week. But as of Monday, ongoing nationwide train strikes came to an end as Deutsche Bahn reached an agreement with the GDL drivers’ union.

It also seems unlikely that there will be airport strikes over the Easter weekend as security employers came to a peace agreement amid ongoing negotiations for better wages.

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