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Monday, December 4, 2023

Train drivers in Germany are on strike, they want higher wages

Train drivers in Germany, who are members of the GDL union, went on a 20-hour warning strike on Wednesday for higher wages. German railway company Deutsche Bahn said it was able to dispatch less than 20 percent of high-speed and long-distance ICE trains.

Many regional and city trains will not run due to the strike. “Based on experience from previous strikes, there will be extensive disruptions in regional transport as well,” said spokesman Achim Stauss. “We also expect that trains will not run at all in some regions,” he noted.

Achim Stauss said that the railways want to increase the capacity of trains that can be dispatched as much as possible. “We will add wagons if possible,” he said. However, he also pointed out that Deutsche Bahn will not be able to transport every passenger.

The railways have urged the public to postpone travel until the strike ends on Thursday. All the tickets that people bought for the services during the strike can be used in the following days. Passengers can also rebook seats for free or request a refund.

The railroads misinterpreted the concessions

The strike announcement came as a surprise as the German Train Drivers Union and Deutsche Bahn held the first round of wage negotiations a week ago and planned a second round for Thursday and Friday. Union boss Claus Weselsky said the railroads interpreted the union’s concessions as weakness. The railway company sharply criticized the union’s actions, calling the strike unnecessary. The railways also canceled Thursday and Friday negotiations with the train drivers’ union.

The German passenger association PRO BAHN also had reservations about the strike, according to which the unions gave people too little time to prepare for the protest. The association also warned that mutual disputes complicate the search for an agreement.

Union requirements

The unions are demanding a wage increase of 555 euros per month and a one-time anti-inflation bonus of 3,000 euros. The point of contention is the reduction of working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week for shift workers with full wage compensation. The railways disagree with the demands and propose an 11 percent wage increase and a one-time anti-inflation bonus of 2,850 euros. This bonus was not subject to taxation.

Don’t overlook

German railways refused to participate in wage negotiations with train drivers’ unions due to the strike

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