German public sector workers to get pay rise, ending strikes

A series of warning strikes called by powerful public sector union Verdi has disrupted service in German hospitals, nursery schools, administration, public transport and airports over the past two months.</p>

A series of warning strikes called by powerful public sector union Verdi has disrupted service in German hospitals, nursery schools, administration, public transport and airports over the past two months.

BERLIN, Germany — Unions and employers have agreed on a pay rise for German public-sector workers, following a series of disruptive strikes.

The deal will see 2 million public-sector employees given a 6.3 percent raise over two years, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich announced early this morning.

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The breakthrough followed a long night of negotiations between Friedrich and public sector union Verdi, according to Reuters.

"This wasn't a marathon, this was an Ironman," the interior minister said, adding that the government had stretched to the upper limit of what it could accept.

Verdi had originally sought a 6.5-percent pay rise this year alone, the Associated Press reported. Employers offered them 3.3 percent over two years.

Arguing that inflation would soon outstrip that increase, the union called a series of strikes that resulted in nationwide disruption to public transport, flights, hospitals, garbage collection and other public services, according to the The Local.

Federal and municipal employers will now get a backdated pay rise of 3.5 percent from March 1, followed by rises of 1.4 percent in January and August 2013. Verdi's demand for a minimum €200 ($267) wage increase for the lowest-paid workers was denied, however.

The head of Verdi, Frank Bsirske, described the terms as "good, and [...] bitterly necessary in order to reduce the wage gap between public service and the economy as a whole."

The deal will cost the German government around €550 million ($734 million), according to Friedrich, who the agreement pushed public finances "to the pain threshold."

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