Thousands of German public service workers are staging a short-term strike in a bid to receive higher wages and preserve pension benefits.

The ver.di union said teachers and other public employees including police and firefighters walked off the job in multiple states Wednesday to put pressure on the government ahead of third round of negotiations starting next week.

The union says it is seeking a pay rise of at least 5.5 percent for the 800,000 public workers it represents and is fighting against a plan to change pensions that it says would reduce benefits by 20 percent. Ver.di says the final agreement could also apply to a further 1.2 million employees and that some 700,000 already-retired workers would also benefit.

The union says so far it has received no counter-offer.