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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 14:47 GMT
No deal yet to end German strike
Striking garbage workers
The strikes have entered their seventh week
A public sector strike in south west Germany has entered its seventh week after unions and authorities failed to find agreement in arbitration.

The dispute in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg centres on plans to raise the working week from 38.5 hours to 40, together with a cut in bonuses.

Services union Verdi said it would continue with the strikes, but also look at introducing other strategies.

Rubbish collectors, hospital staff and teachers have all joined the walkouts.

Countrywide action

While Germany's cash-strapped state authorities say the changes are vital, Verdi argues that lengthening hours would destroy jobs.

It is so far digging in its heels, despite its own suggestions that the strikes may not be working.

"We need a change of strategy," said the union's chief negotiator in Baden-Wurttemberg, Alfred Wohlfart.

The ongoing strikes in Baden-Wurttemberg have been mirrored by similar walkouts by Verdi members across Germany in the country's biggest public sector stoppage for 14 years.

While municipal workers in the city of Hamburg and the state of Lower Saxony have managed to reach agreement with management, the stand-off continues in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Thousands of workers have so far taken part in the industrial action.

In a separate dispute, thousands of doctors at public hospitals have also stepped up strike action for improved working conditions and a 30% rise in basic pay.

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