Germany is experiencing one of the biggest public sector walk-outs for 14 years. 10 out of 16 federal states have reported strike action among its mainly blue collar workers. The issue at the centre of the dispute is a planned increase of the working week from 38.5 hours to 40.But for some this has already happened. Petra Schick is a hospital worker in Duesseldorf and complains that she isworking more hours than her colleague for the same job and they do not get the same bonuses.
While Horst Krey, who is also a hospital worker says that if there is no street protest, rights will be taken away. The trade union known as Ver.di, which is Germany’s biggest,claims that the government backed increase will lead to job cuts and the erosion of a variety of bonus payments. They have warned that the strike action could last up to six weeks. But the Government denies the threat to jobs and has rejected calls to compensate workers for the proposed longer hours. Talks between the two sides are scheduled for the 20th of February.In the meantime the industrial action is having an obvious impact.