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Merkel targets unions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is proposing curbs to trade union power following walkouts that have crippled the country's transport network.

Strikes by Lufthansa pilots have led to the cancellation of 5,800 flights while a series of walkouts by Deutsche Bahn engineers have brought trains to a standstill.

Now Merkel wants to limit the role of smaller labour groups in wage negotiations.

"We are observing a tendency for strikes by small unions with big consequences that result in many, many people suffering," she said.