Destinations Magazine

Misery with a Silver Lining

By Stizzard
Misery with a silver lining

COPING with strikes is a new experience for Germans. This week parents had nowhere to drop their kids because crèches were closed. Verdi, Germany’s largest trade union in the service sector, called a stoppage to demand pay rises averaging 10% for pre-school teachers. People also had to wait longer for mail: once again thanks to Verdi, postal workers struck, seeking a 5.5% hike and shorter hours.

Disruptions were even worse the week before, when a train drivers’ union halted service for six days. It was the union’s eighth strike in ten months. Pupils were unable to travel to their college-entrance exams. New cars waited idly to be transported to buyers. And ordinary commuters turned into a miserable, cranky mass of humanity as they squeezed into buses or underground trains which were unaffected. This recalled the misery of last year, when the pilots’ union struck, grounding thousands of Lufthansa flights.

Such labor strife is rare in Germany, which is known for its orderly and consensual industrial relations. Indeed, a decade ago, employers and unions were so civil with each other that they agreed on years of wage…

The Economist: Europe

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