Strikes by Public Sector Workers Continue
The strikes by the public sector workers in Germany continued this week. Monday, the 6th of March, witnessed another disruption in public transport after the one on the 3rd of March.
The Strike on 3rd March
While state and municipal public sector workers fight for higher wages, there have lately been several strikes in Germany.
On their way to work on Friday, commuters in six states- Baden-Württemberg, Saxony, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, & North Rhine-Westphalia- saw firsthand the effects of the strikes.
The strikes come as a continued protest by the state and local public sector employees under the union Ver.di. The workers are protesting low wages in an inflation-ridden nation.
A second round of worker walkouts was planned by the union, Ver.di, on 6th March. This strike largely affected public services like hospitals and trash collection in five states, including Berlin. The state of Saxony and its city Leipzig, in particular, saw a great number of commuters stranded.
The strikes that have been occurring over the past two weeks have mainly spared the capital city of Germany. But, on Monday, workers at the Vivantes, Charité, and Jewish Hospital Berlin joined the strike, which lasted until Tuesday morning. Ver.di estimated that a total of 1,000 hospital employees would quit their jobs.
Somewhere between 6,000 to 7,000 members of the public sector are also on strike. Participants include staff from the Berlin swimming pools, water operations, and cleaning services for the city.
The result? Garbage collection, bulk waste collection, street cleaning, & recycling facilities were all closed on Monday and Tuesday. Scheduled operations at Charité hospital were pushed back, and some swimming pools had their hours of operation cut back.
The strikes in the Baden-Württemberg state in the southwest mostly affected Mannheim, where city government and municipal services were shut down.
The Badische Zeitung said that Ver.di has also requested that some hospital staff members strike from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. This strike affected four clinic locations in Lörrach, Rheinfelden, and Schopfheim. During this period, no surgeries were performed, though the emergency care unit was active.
On Friday, local public transportation workers in the largest state in Germany walked off the job en masse, and on Monday, Ver.di urged workers in public utility services to do the same.
As a result, trash and street cleaning services were suspended in various locations. Ver.di also requested that staff members at the hospital in Aschaffenburg-Alzenau have the day off on Monday. Nonetheless, Ver.di and the two hospitals came to an emergency service arrangement.
Employees of Hort, after-school care, and Kita, daycare centers, across the entire state were also scheduled to strike on 8the March.
The most populous state in Germany experienced significant strike activity, which resulted in several flight cancellations and a near-paralyzation of public transportation in various towns. Daycares (Kitas) were most impacted this week. According to Focus Online, some Kitas in Cologne have shut their doors on Monday, and on Wednesday, every Kita in the city will do the same.
Northern Saxony was affected more severely in the meantime. As part of the collective bargaining negotiations, the regional bus firm “Nordsachsen Mobil” was on strike from March 5 through to March 8. There was little public transportation available in Leipzig and northern Saxony at this time because employees of the bus firm “Regionalbus Leipzig” also stopped working for three days.
Ver.di called on the staff of the Dresden Municipal Hospital and the city’s public transportation system to go on strike on Wednesday for the entire day. Here, essential surgeries were not postponed. That was not he case for planned operations.
The Fridays for Future Strike on 3rd March
The 3rd of March saw the climate movement, the Fridays for Future, striking on the streets of Germany as well. Despite the fact that the event had coincided with the public sector strikes, the two actions were not connected. There were many linkages between the two. The climate group had only organized their strike to coincide with the other strikes to put more pressure on the government. In a broader sense, they had also called for a World Climate Strike on 3rd March.
Why are there so many strikes?
The trade union Ver.di and the German Civil Service Association [dbb], are requesting a 10.5 rise or €500 euros per month for 12 months in the negotiations for the roughly 2.5 million workers in the municipal and federal public sectors.
Employers made an offer to Ver.di during the most recent round of discussions to enhance the pay by 5% overall in two steps and provide one-time payments totaling €2,500, which Verdi rejected.
More warning strikes by public transport workers can be expected until the third round of negotiations with the employers at the end of March.