German health workers stage protest demanding better working conditions, higher wages

The protest was called by the trade union Ver.di. The workers are demanding an increase in salaries by 4.8%, a hike in trainee pay, and a maximum of a 45-hour week for emergency service staff

October 01, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Protesters in Berlin held up banners with pictures of 12,500 clinic employees from across the country who supported the demands.

On Wednesday, September 30, healthcare workers from various hospitals across Germany went on a warning strike on the call of the Ver.di trade union. In Berlin, 300 employees from hospitals and geriatric care facilities demonstrated at the venue of a conference of health ministers, demanding better working conditions and higher wages. The protesters in Berlin organized a photo demonstration too by raising 30 banners with photos of 12,500 clinic employees (supporters of the warning strike) across Germany printed on it.

Ver.di is demanding an increase in salaries by 4.8% for federal and local employees. They are also demanding an increase in trainee pay, and a maximum of a 45-hour week for emergency service staff. Workers in other sectors are also holding warning strikes – demanding fairer contracts, increased wages and safer work conditions – as part of a week-long action called by the union.

Sylvia Bühler, who is responsible for the health system in the Ver.di federal board, said “Even during the pandemic, health care workers are making their demands visible and acting together. With the first nationwide photo demonstration, we have found a creative way to take the protest to the streets.”

“Basically, and especially in times of pandemic, the following applies: Hospitals and care facilities need enough staff to provide people with good and safe care,” emphasized Bühler.

Die Linke (The Left) expressed solidarity with the health workers’ protest in Germany. Party leader Bernd Riexinger stated that “the hospitals urgently need more nurses. These need to be paid higher and working conditions considerably improved.”

There has been a spike in COVID-19 cases across Europe in recent times. As of now, in Germany, there are around 27,353 active cases and 9,581 people have died due to COVID-19.