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Germany: Local public transit workers to strike on Friday

Local public transport workers in all German federal states, except Bavaria, will go on strike this Friday, trade union Verdi announced on Monday.

According to the union, more than 90,000 workers at over 132 local companies operating buses, trams and underground services are expected to join the walkout.

Long-distance and regional trains operated by Deutsche Bahn, which went on strike last week, will not be affected.

What are Verdi's demands?

Verdi has argued that the workload for employees and the shortage of staff in public transport have been increasing and that work pressure is growing. The trade union launched the bargaining round in early December, presenting demands in all 16 federal states.

In essence, the Verdi's demands are all about relief and issues such as a reduction in weekly working hours with full pay compensation, shorter shifts, an extension of rest periods, more holidays or additional days off.

The issue of easing the burden on employees is the most important in the current round of collective bargaining, said Verdi deputy chairwoman Christine Behle on Monday in Berlin.

"In some collective agreements, for example, we are demanding a reduction in weekly working hours with full pay compensation; we are talking about a 35-hour week," she said.

The background to this is the "considerable shortage of staff in many companies", with 20 to 30 percent of positions unfilled in some cases, Behle said.

dh/wmr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)