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German union calls for retail strikes during Christmas shopping season

FRANKFURT (Thomson Financial) - German union ver.di is calling for strikes in the country's retail industry during the key Christmas shopping season to put pressure on employers to hike wages, Die Welt reported, citing the union's deputy head Margret Moenig-Raane.

"We still have a lot in the pipeline until Christmas," Moenig-Raane told the newspaper.

Talks between the union and employers stalled in late September, with retailers pushing to abolish higher pay rates for work in the evening, while the union aims for the opposite, for an increase in after-hours pay.

Currently, workers receive about 20 pct more pay for hours worked past 6.30 pm on weekdays, and 50 pct more for work after 8.00 pm on weekdays and 3.30 pm on Saturdays, the newspaper said.

"We will not have a worsening in evening and late pay," Moenig-Raane said.

"Quite the opposite: We are seeking an increase in districts with low additional pay such as Hamburg and Lower Saxony." As part of the dispute, Ver.di has already staged more than 1,000 strike actions in supermarkets, department stores, drug stores and IKEA furniture outlets, the newspaper cited the union as saying.

Among Germany's biggest retailers are Metro AG, Arcandor AG and Douglas Holding AG.

maria.sheahan@thomson.com mas/cw COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2007. All rights reserved.

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