Public sector strikes to hit Germany next week over wages

International

The crescent moon sets behind the Commerzbank building in Frankfurt, Germany, late Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

BERLIN (AP) — Public sector workers in Germany will start staging short-term warning strikes after the latest round of wage negotiations failed to produce an agreement, their union said Sunday.

The Ver.di union, which represents around 2.3 million federal and local employees, said strikes will start Tuesday. It didn’t announce where and said it would provide more information Monday.

Warning strikes are a typical tactic in German labor negotiations and typically last between several hours to a day or two. The union didn’t rule out kindergarten teachers taking part, which could cause difficulties for parents.

The union is demanding a 4.8% raise, or a minimum of 150 euros ($177) per month, for its workers over the next year. Government negotiators are seeking a longer-term solution and have said the wage demands are too high with the German economy struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The employers are worsening the conflict,” said Ver.di chairman Frank Werneke. “The answer will now come from the workplaces.”

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called the weekend talks “constructive,” but said there were still “hurdles to overcome.”

He said there are “difficult issues that we have to solve, especially for those people who we have called heroes in the past months,” and signaled a willingness to compromise.

“We must translate our words into concrete actions,” he said. “But we also can’t ignore the extraordinary times and the economic consequences of the pandemic.”

The third round of negotiations is scheduled for Oct. 23 and 24.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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