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Strikes

E.on utility workers walk out for higher wages

Several thousand workers at Germany's biggest energy company, E.on, have staged warning strikes in support of a substantial pay hike. But management wants wages to remain in line with the utility's meager earnings.

About 7,300 workers took part in the industrial action, Germany's verdi labor union said Monday, as E.on operations all over Germany were affected, including the company's nuclear facilities at Grohnde and Brokdorf.

Energy production at Germany's biggest utility was not interrupted, labor representatives as well as management confirmed.

However, verdi chief negotiator Volker Stüber wouldn't rule out interruptions in the future, underlining that E.on workers were in angry moods in the face of 6,000 jobs that were planned to be cut and a wage offer below the national inflation rate.

German labor unions verdi and IG BCE, which represent about 30,000 E.on workers, aim to force management to substantially increase an offer of 1.1 percent higher wages. They demand a pay hike of up to 6.5 percent in the current talks.

Management said its wage offer was based on the firm's difficult economic situation.

E.on earnings have suffered since the German government decided to completely phase out nuclear power and put the country's energy production on a more sustainable footing. Profits have slumped because the utility was forced to immediately shut down two of its older reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

However, labor representatives said they won't accept falling real incomes for the utility workers - in reference to the current German inflation rate of about 2 percent. On Monday, they warned they were prepared to call a nationwide indefinite strike on the utility, which would be the first full-blown industrial action in the history of German energy sector.

uhe/dr (dpa, dapd)