Thousands of public sector employees across Germany went on strike Wednesday, closing schools, daycare centers and administrative offices in the city states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg.
Trade unions said that over 10,000 employees struck in Berlin alone, where many marched to the city’s famous Brandenburg Gate calling for better pay and working conditions.
Teachers, daycare workers, police, firefighters and state administrators were among those involved in the walkout.
“It is very clear that our colleagues expect something, because otherwise they will no longer be able to live in the city where they work,” a spokesperson for the Verdi trade union said in Berlin.
Two rounds of collective bargaining negotiations between public sector employees and Germany’s states have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.
“The federal states have not presented an offer in two rounds of nationwide negotiations,” said Verdi’s regional director for Berlin-Brandenburg, Andrea Kühnemann. “This is very disrespectful toward employees.”
German hospitals and psychiatric wards to be targeted Thursday and Friday
Employees at hospitals in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein on Wednesday announced that they will begin a two-day warning strike on Thursday and Friday.
The move will affect hospitals as well as psychiatric wards across the states as demonstrations are scheduled throughout Thursday.
Unions are demanding a 10.5% pay increase as well as city-state bonuses of €300 ($326) in Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg.
The next round of bargaining negotiations is set to take place on December 7 and 8.
Pharmacists in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg also stopped work Wednesday, not over collective bargaining, but to protest changes to German healthcare laws that would force pharmacists to cover discounts provided to statutory health insurance funds, cutting into business profits.
js/wd (AFP, dpa)
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