German union Verdi seeks hefty pay hike for public sector

BERLIN: Powerful German trade union Verdi will seek a 6 percent pay rise for its members that it believes the government should match for all white collar workers in the public sector, its leader said.

The first round of wage talks for more than 2 million civil servants and other employees of the federal government and municipalities begins in Berlin on Monday. Negotiations are likely to last several weeks.

Frank Bsirske said workers should get 6 percent or at least 200 euros ($247) more per month in a 12-month deal.

It was high time to improve the attractiveness of public sector jobs by raising wages, he told ZDF television, adding: "The German economy is in a festive mood".

Europe's biggest economy is riding high, with tax revenues at record levels and the budget in surplus amid a consumer boom fuelled by low inflation and borrowing costs.

In the industrial sector, 3.9 million workers earlier this month sealed a hard-fought deal on pay and flexible working hours that amounted to a hike of roughly 4 percent over 12 months.

After years of restraint, significant across-the-board wage hikes in Germany would be likely to further boost consumer spending as well as potentially aid the European Central Bank as it tries to get euro zone inflation back up to its target rate of just below 2 percent.