Germany: Hundreds of healthcare workers join warning strike in Berlin

Hundreds of healthcare workers held a rally through the streets of Berlin to demand better working conditions and higher wages on Wednesday. Workers from Berlin's Charite and Vivantes hospitals joined the so-called 'warning strike' organised by the Ver.di trade union, which was timed to coincide with a meeting of federal and state health ministers in the German capital. Demonstrators were seen holding signs and banners reading, 'We demand system-relevant pay now', 'It's not the strike that is a threat to patients' and 'Applause doesn't cure anyone.' «We want everyone to acknowledge that we need more than just applause on the balconies but we need that everybody commits to keeping what we have and that we get credit for it,» said Laura, a healthcare worker. Ver.di is demanding an increase in salaries by 4.8 percent for federal and local employees, as well as increased trainee pay, and giving emergency service staff a maximum 45 hour work week. «In March, April and May, you alongside other workers of the public sector, received much support and, in parts, even real applause. And there were many acknowledging and warm words by politicians. Now, however, amnesia has kicked in. The employers at the negotiating table forget or belittle what has been achieved by you. It's obvious and it's shady,» said Frank Werneke, Chairman of Ver.di while speaking to the crowd. Thousands more healthcare workers participated in other strikes throughout the country on Wednesday, as part of a week of action called by the union, with workers in public transport, rubbish disposal, as well as child care, also participating in strikes.
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