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Germany stops on Monday: unions call a large-scale strike across all transport

2023-03-24T13:23:15.031Z


Public sector workers raise pressure to demand increases of 10.5% to offset high inflation Protest of the public sector unions in Berlin this Thursday. CLEMENS BILAN (EFE) Objective: paralyze the country. Let not a single train or bus circulate nor take off a plane. The German unions will fight the authorities next Monday with a large-scale strike that will hinder movement in practically the entire country. The public sector union, Ver.di, together with the railway workers' union, EVG,


Protest of the public sector unions in Berlin this Thursday. CLEMENS BILAN (EFE)

Objective: paralyze the country.

Let not a single train or bus circulate nor take off a plane.

The German unions will fight the authorities next Monday with a large-scale strike that will hinder movement in practically the entire country.

The public sector union, Ver.di, together with the railway workers' union, EVG, have called strikes on long-distance trains, regional trains and all local transport, as well as airports, ports and highways.

In this way, they increase the pressure in the negotiation of collective agreements, the third round of which begins on Monday.

Unions are demanding 10.5% wage increases to counteract high inflation.

The "mega strike day", as the unions define it, comes after several so-called "warning" strikes that have affected nurseries, schools and hospitals, and air traffic, which has been interrupted at the country's most important airports three times since beginning of the year.

The difference with the previous actions is that the call is national and for the first time two large unions make it at the same time.

Ver.di represents more than 2.5 million public employees of the federal and local administrations (teachers, health personnel, cleaners...) and EVG represents 230,000 workers in the transport sector, including those of Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German Renfe.

The strikes will begin at midnight, as a prelude to the third round of negotiations to be held in the city of Potsdam, near the capital.

"Serious delays will occur throughout Germany and transport will be completely paralyzed" in some areas, the unions say in a joint statement.

All local transport will stop in seven federal states in the west and south of the country.

DB trains will also not run, as warned by the company's Human Resources director, Martin Seiler: "We expect the country to come to a standstill on Monday and there will be almost no rail traffic," he told a press conference at the central station in the capital.

Air traffic

Frankfurt airport, the busiest in the European Union, will also be affected.

The operating company, Fraport, has already warned travelers not to go to the aerodrome because all operations will be suspended.

There were 1,170 takeoffs and landings scheduled with a total of 160,000 passengers.

In the rest of the German commercial airports, except the one in Berlin, there are also called stoppages.

The unions justify the strike due to the lack of progress in the respective rounds of collective bargaining.

“We have to be aware that employers continue to ignore the needs of their employees,” said EVG President Martin Burkert.

“We don't want to escalate the conflict.

We want an offer to negotiate on, ”he added at a press conference on Thursday.

Ver.di leader Frank Werneke predicted a “massive” fallout across the transport sector as worker morale is high.

Germany registered an inflation rate of 7.9% on average in 2022, a record in the last 70 years.

In February it reached 8.7% and is above the European average.

Representatives of different unions, including the German Federation of Civil Servants (DBB), demonstrated together in Berlin on Wednesday and Thursday to demand salary increases to compensate for inflation.

At the final rally on Wednesday, in front of the Ministry of the Interior, they listed all the aid that the German coalition government has dedicated in the last three years, first to companies in difficulty during the coronavirus crisis, and then to alleviate the high prices of energy.

“And what is left for the public sector?

It is a scandal and we are not going to accept it”, said the speaker, referring to the latest offer from the Administrations with which they are negotiating, a 5% increase that would also occur in two tranches.

salary increases

Ver.di demands a salary increase of 10.5%, with an immediate rise of a minimum of 500 euros per month for the first year.

The railway union, which negotiates with 50 transport companies throughout Germany, demands 650 euros more per month or a 12% increase to be achieved in 12 months.

“Every day services are canceled because the trains are not running due to lack of personnel,” Burkert recalled.

"This situation will continue to worsen because transport companies will continue to lose workers if wages do not increase significantly now."

Experts see this joint call by two of the largest German unions as a show of force that could pay off in the negotiations.

“The fact that they have managed to coordinate in this way not only demonstrates their capacity for action.

It is also an incredible demonstration of power against the bosses,” said political scientist Wolfgang Schroeder, an expert on the trade union movement, in the

Frankfurter Allgemeine

.

The transport strike could be the biggest in the last 30 years, the

Süddeutsche Zeitung

noted .

The affected companies have criticized the call.

“Exaggerated, unnecessary and disproportionate,” the spokesman for Deutsche Bahn, whose trains are used by more than seven million Germans every day, said of the strike.

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Source: elparis

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