More than 250,000 railroad workers in eastern Germany were on strike for higher pay Monday in the first widespread job action since the two Germanys united seven weeks ago.

The strike started Sunday evening in Berlin, halting intercity rail traffic from the main stations in the eastern and western halves of the city, and spread to 26 other cities in eastern Germany Monday morning, a union spokesmen said.Pay levels in the former communist part of the country for almost all lines of work are about a third of western pay scales, and most industries plan to raise eastern scales gradually over several years to levels in the west.

In another job action related to German unification, 10,000 civilian workers at NATO bases staged warning strikes Monday. Their union, the Public Service and Transport Union, said the workers need higher pay, job protection or retraining because NATO troop reductions are expected to cut 23,000 of the 100,000 civilian jobs at NATO bases.

The warning strikes hit such major U.S. bases as Ramstein Air Base in southwest Germany and Rhein-Main Air Base outside Frankfurt.