Massive nation-wide public service strikes

Public clinics across Germany will be staffed only by essential personnel on Thursday due to a strike by health workers. The strike by members of the Ver.di united services union has been called to press for an eight percent pay rise. The German Business Institute calls the claim “unserious.”

“Ver.di claims that there is a need to catch up. That, however, is not serious, because public services have not had the increase in productivity seen by other sectors,” Hagen Lesch, a union expert at the German Business Institute, told Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

“The wage disputes could last for weeks or months,” said Hagen Lesch.

The first strikes started at 3:30 am Thursday morning in Saarland with the early morning shift. It then continued to North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Hesse. Strikes are due to begin in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein and Baden Württemberg during the course of the day.

In Saarland, 1,500 employees from day-care, sanitation and local government services are taking part in the so-called warning strike. In Bavaria 3,000 employees from more than 30 hospitals are striking. In North Rhine-Westphalia staff in public clinics are striking, especially those working in food preparation and cleaning.

Ver.di expects more than 10,000 hospital, day-care, local government administration, government owned banks and utility and sanitation service employees to strike. Thus far, employers have fallen three percent short of Ver.di’s demand, offering a five percent increase in wages. The salary negotiations affect around 1.3 million federal and local government employees.