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UPDATE 1-Employees of Deutsche Bank call centre unit to strike from Saturday

(Updates with Verdi statement, Essen location)

FRANKFURT, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Employees at a Deutsche Bank call centre unit, DB Direkt, will go on an open-ended strike starting Saturday in an escalation of a months-long dispute over pay, the Verdi and DBV unions said on Friday.

The strike will affect some 650 staff in Berlin and Essen who have sought a 6% pay increase.

A recent four-day strike led to 45-minute waits for customers trying to get through to the bank, union officials said. Call centres have grown in importance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

DBV said employees at the call centres are among the lowest paid at the bank, with starting wages at about 12 euros ($14.57) per hour.

Deutsche Bank is expected to award its higher-earning staff a 20% increase in bonuses for 2020, compared to 2019, a person with knowledge of the matter said, in line with an earlier Handelsblatt report. ($1 = 0.8234 euros) (Reporting by Patricia Uhlig and Tom Sims;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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