Public sector strikes begin across Germany
On Thursday, staff working in public transport, Kitas (daycares), hospitals and at public swimming pools will take part in a Warnstreik (warning strike). North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Berlin and Bavaria are the most affected federal states.
Transport and Kita strikes in North Rhine-Westphalia
Employees working in public services across North Rhine-Westphalia are carrying out their first strike ahead of a second round of negotiations for a 10,5 percent pay increase.
Germany’s largest trade union ver.di called on people working in public transport, theatres, public swimming pools, rubbish collection firms, Kitas, hospitals, municipality offices, unemployment offices and pension insurance offices to walk out across multiple cities in North Rhine-Westphalia. The union estimates that thousands of workers will attend demonstrations in Dortmund, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen.
Kita staff shortages fuelling further pressure
For Kita workers in particular, huge staff shortages are also behind the walkout. Kitas are one of the most stretched public services in Germany, with recent data revealing that the country is in urgent need of 266.000 extra spaces in daycare.
In a statement on Thursday morning, ver.di representative Andrea Becker criticised the Sofortprogramm Kita (Kita Emergency Programme) policy, an outline of which the government in North Rhine-Westphalia released on Wednesday. Under the new policy, the state would create thousands of new temporary jobs to compensate for the shortage of skilled workers.
“The early childhood education system in North Rhine-Westphalia is on the verge of collapse. The measures presented do not stabilise the system,” Becker said in a press release. “The educational and quality standards for Kitas in North Rhine-Westphalia will simply be lowered further, which will continue the downward spiral and accelerate the brain drain.”
Hesse, Berlin and Bavaria also affected by public sector strikes
The states of Hesse and Berlin are also seeing their fair share of widespread strikes on Thursday. In the capital, employees of the world-famous Charité hospital will walk out, alongside workers from water companies, universities and rubbish collection outfits.
In Hessen, hospital and public swimming pool staff will be striking and in Bavaria, Kita employees in the city of Augsburg will be walking out.
If ver.di successfully negotiate the 10,5 percent pay rise for public sector workers involved in the strike, around 2,5 million employees in North Rhine-Westphalia would receive a pay increase of at least 500 euros. After one unsuccessful negotiation period, the second round will take place on February 22 and 23 in Potsdam.
Thumb image credit: rkl_foto / Shutterstock.com
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