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Germany rejects big public-sector pay rise demand
German govt rejects union call for 6.5 percent raise for public workers
By The Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) ' Germany's interior minister is sharply rejecting a union's call for a 6.5 percent pay rise for public-sector workers.

The ver.di union made the demand ahead of pay negotiations starting Thursday for about 2 million federal and municipal employees. Like industrial unions, it argues that union workers deserve a share in Germany's economic upswing after showing relative restraint in recent years.

But Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, the government's chief negotiator, told n-tv television that "we can't negotiate with the demand that's on the table now because it is beyond any reality."

Friedrich pointed to slowing growth in Germany, Europe's biggest economy. Output grew 3 percent last year but the government expects that to decline to 0.7 percent this year.

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