German unions, Social Democrats to meet

June 29, 2004 at 12:32 PM
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BERLIN, June 29 (UPI) -- German Social Democrats have called an emergency summit with union leaders to discuss the widening schism between the two groups.

Social Democratic Party Head Franz Muentefering and Michael Sommer, head of the German union coalition DGB, will meet Thursday in Berlin, the online version of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reports.

The meeting comes after usually close relations between Social Democrats and unions degenerated in recent weeks, with Social Democratic officials accusing the unions of being out of touch with reality and union officials calling Social Democratic reforms a complete failure.

Despite the Thursday summit's conciliatory goals, Social Democratic General Secretary Uwe Benneter has made it clear the party has no immediate plans to change its polices.

"We will defend ourselves," Benneter said, adding that the party's commitment to reforming German labor policy remains strong.

The Social Democrats' popularity has reached record lows in Germany, largely on account of the party's unpopular economic and labor reforms, which party officials say are key to restoring the country's economic health.

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