Healthcare workers in Germany began a two-day strike on Thursday, with university hospitals hit particularly hard and many operations canceled.
Employees from six hospitals in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone had taken part in the strike, trade union Verdi said. According to German news outlet dpa, about 300 employees from the University of Leipzig Medical Center and 1,200 employees from several psychiatric centers in Baden-Wuerttemberg were also on strike.
Verdi’s call for a strike affects all university hospitals with a state collective agreement, as well as psychiatric centers. Employees are calling for an income increase of 10.5 percent, but at least 500 euros (545 U.S. dollars) per month.
“Those who care for sick people and save lives every day must be able to pay their rent and live well on their wages,” said Verdi national board member Sylvia Buehler on Tuesday, warning of a further increase in staff shortages.
Germany already has a particularly severe staff shortage in the healthcare sector. According to the auditing and consulting firm PwC (Germany), this could rise sharply to 1.8 million by 2035. Only one in three doctors or nurses say they plan to continue working in their profession until they retire.
The general shortage of skilled workers in Germany has already contributed to a number of high wage settlements this year, for example in the transport sector. However, strikes by various groups continue. (1 euro = 1.09 U.S. dollar)