BERLIN - Germany's trade unions are calling for pay rises of 6.7 per cent before the first round of wage talks for civil servants begins on Thursday, a demand Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has described as"exorbitant".
The Verdi and dbb trade unions want pay rises of 3.5 per cent and an extra 100 euros (S$176) per month for some 2.1 million federal and municipal public-sector workers. That would amount to a total increase of 6.7 per cent, they say.
"There will be a wage rise, but the sky is not the limit,"de Maiziere told public broadcaster ARD. His ministry estimates the proposed increase would cost 8 billion euros. He also disagreed with union claims that wage rises for civil servants had lagged those of private sector workers.
After a decade of wage restraint before 2011, Germany came under heavy pressure during the euro zone debt crisis to let pay rise, to encourage consumers to spend more. Unions have negotiated inflation-busting hikes in wages over the past few years, including public-sector pay.
Unions and employers will also haggle over how long the wage agreements will last. Unions want them to expire after one year, but recent agreements have run for two. Germany's regional civil servants last year won a 5.6 per cent hike over 24 months.
Verdi leader Frank Bsirske has said he will call warning strikes that could disrupt Europe's largest economy if employers do not put a proposal on the table at the first round of negotiations, which start at 1300 GMT.