BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - The trade union Verdi staged a nationwide strike in the retail and wholesale sector on Friday, targeting the companies Ikea and Metro AG in particular. Petra Ringer from Verdi said at midday that she was "quite satisfied" with the turnout for the warning strike. She did not give a number of strikers.

Meanwhile, the German Retail Association (HDE) was unimpressed by the renewed industrial action in the faltering wage dispute. The employers are well prepared for the warning strikes, said Steven Haarke, Managing Director of HDE. "We are still not expecting any noticeable effects for customers."

Collective bargaining for the approximately five million employees in the retail sector has made little progress for months. Even numerous warning strikes and top-level talks have been unable to change the deadlocked situation. Among other things, Verdi is demanding at least 2.50 euros more per hour in all regions in the retail sector and a wage agreement lasting one year. Depending on the country, there are further demands. The employers had recently offered a wage increase of 10.24 percent in total over a two-year period, as well as an inflation compensation bonus of 750 euros and a collectively agreed minimum wage.

At the beginning of March, some retail companies, including Ikea, announced that they would be increasing their employees' wages. In doing so, they were following a recommendation from the German Retail Association to voluntarily increase wages before an official wage agreement and to offset this later against the wage agreement. The trade union Verdi had sharply criticized this approach./nif/DP/jha