By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and William Glucroft
Civil servants are preparing this week for walkout strikes from banks, hospitals and preschools, among other places.
Trade union Verdi and the German Civil Service Federation are demanding a minimum monthly raise of 150 euros. They are also asking for fewer working hours for employees in eastern Germany to reflect hours worked in the west.
Spokespeople for employers, however, say such demands are inappropriate, given the continuing financial pounding on the economy linked to the coronavirus.
Many German state leaders want Christmas markets to open this year, despite the pandemic.
It’s 10 weeks until the First of Advent, which marks the traditional start of Germany’s famous Christmas markets. But COVID-19 is sure to put a damper on the Christmas spirit that usually warms up millions of regulars with a mulled wine.
Bodo Ramelow, the premier of Thuringia, told Welt newspaper that Christmas markets fill a “soulful need for normality,” but that he can’t imagine the famous market in the state capital, Erfurt, accommodating 2 million visitors like last year.
His counterpart in Bavaria, Markus Söder, said that markets could be possible with masks, less alcohol and more control of crowds.
Public health officials say the deciding factor on whether the markets will open will be regional infection rates as the season approaches.
Meanwhile in Bavaria, some 8,800 students and 771 teachers have been ordered to quarantine because of scattered coronavirus outbreaks in the alpine state.
North Rhine-Westphalia is not far behind. Officials there say some 7,000 students and 580 teachers are quarantined at home.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.