Construction workers' campaign of stoppages extends across Germany

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The Independent Online

Germany's construction workers' union extended its strike campaign yesterday, calling out more than 16,000 workers on a third day of action. Employers said the two sides had discussed resuming negotiations.

Germany's construction workers' union extended its strike campaign yesterday, calling out more than 16,000 workers on a third day of action. Employers said the two sides had discussed resuming negotiations.

More than 1,000 construction sites were now affected by the first such strikes since the Second World War, the IG BAU union said.

Union members in seven more regions, including the industrial centres of Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria, joined workers in Berlin and the industrial Ruhr Valley who had walked out on Monday and Tuesday. Leaders of the two sides met on Tuesday for an exchange of opinions, the industry employers association said, adding that it expected talks to resume next week. Union officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The strikes have involved only a small proportion of the roughly 950,000 workers employed in the sector, but the union has threatened to keep expanding the industrial action.

The strike could further damage the struggling industry, say economists.

The union is seeking a 4.5 per cent annual pay increase and increased wages in poorer east Germany to match those in the west. Employers have offered increases of 3 per cent for the period from September 2002 until March 2003 and of 2.1 per cent for the succeeding year.

Economists say that even the employers' latest offer is more than some firms can afford, in a sector that shrank by 20 per cent between 1995 and 2001. (AP)

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