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German union votes for strike at Deutsche Post, wage talks to continue

24-hour strike by German trade union Verdi in Frankfurt

BERLIN (Reuters) -Members of Germany's Verdi trade union backed an indefinite strike at Deutsche Post on Thursday but also said wage negotiations would continue on Friday.

Some 86% of union members polled had voted to reject the German postal company's current wage offer, well above the 75% threshold required for industrial action, the union said.

Deutsche Post, which owns logistics giant DHL, called on the union to enter another round of negotiating.

"This demand is being met by Verdi. Deutsche Post AG now has a responsibility to avert an indefinite strike by making a significant material improvement to the rejected offer," said Verdi Vice Chairwoman Andrea Kocsis, who is leading the talks on behalf of the union.

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"Strikes are ... neither in the interest of our customers nor in the interest of our employees," said Thomas Ogilvie, Deutsche Post management board member for human resources.

The company had asked Verdi to "come to an agreeable and economically viable result in the short term", he said.

Verdi is demanding a pay increase of 15% for 160,000 Deutsche Post employees over a period of 12 months.

Deutsche Post's offer was to increase the wages of all employees in two stages by a total of 4,420 euros ($4,671.06) per year, corresponding with an increase of 11.5% across all pay groups. Together with an additional 3,000 euros offered to compensate for inflation, this was the largest collective agreement offer in the history of Deutsche Post, according to the company.

Deutsche Post reported record results for 2022 on Thursday, thanks mainly to booming business abroad. However, the company warned of economic challenges in the current year due to rising prices and lagging consumer sentiment.

($1 = 0.9463 euros)

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, Writing by Rachel MoreEditing by Paul Carrel and Susan Fenton)