• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Train drivers confirm new strikes

Sabine Devins · 18 Feb 2015, 18:00

Published: 18 Feb 2015 18:00 GMT+01:00

Weselsky said only that he would "announce [the strike] in good time" - although his conception of sufficient notice proved unpopular in November, when he gave less than 24 hours' warning of a days-long strike action.

In recent days GDL have threatened to go ahead with a strike lasting more than 100 hours, something they pulled out of halfway through during their last industrial action in November.

"We are in no mood to hold up the gun and say 'now or never' and then simply watch moss grow over the path just beacuse DB continues to invite us to the negotiating table," Weselsky told reporters earlier on Wednesday, his 56th birthday. 

On Tuesday, Deutsche Bahn (DB) refused to sign a nine point document that outlined what GDL thought still had to be negotiated upon.

"We could not sign it the way it is," DB's head of human resources Ulrich Weber told Spiegel in an interview published on Wednesday.

Weber said the document did not reflect the current state of negotiations, but was a restatement of GDL's original demands from the beginning of the bargaining process.

"It sounds like a formal move at first, but it's not. GDL is doing this because they want to split our workforce," Weber said, adding that DB had countered GDL's offer with a "constructive proposal".

This is the seventh industrial action called in the ongoing dispute between GDL and its employers.

At stake is a work week reduced from 39 hours to 37 hours and a five percent increase in wages, but Dr. Stefan Heinz at the Free University in Berlin told The Local the conflict goes much deeper than that.

"The GDL is feeling threatened by these [planned] new labour laws that limit strike rights and they are showing their strength. They are a small union of specialised workers who can strike very effectively," he said in an interview with The Local.

Heinz is referring to the incoming united collective bargaining law (Einheitstarifgesetz) that will only give bargaining powers to the union with the most members working for an employer.

This is the case with DB, which is negotiating with GDL as well as the EVG, a union that represents all other DB workers. EVG represents 17,000 DB employees while GDL counts 34,000 members. However, EVG is an umbrella union that represents 209,000 workers. 

"The GDL does not want the EVG negotiating on their behalf and would rather have it the other way around," Heinz said. "The EVG have to agree to that, but they also know that the GDL can strike much more effectively than their employees – they are a specialised work force – whereas if EVG employees, such as the on-board restaurant staff were to strike, people would just get a sandwich before they get on the train.

"No-one would take a strike like that seriously as long as they can get to where they are going."

The EVG also "heartily greeted" the new labour law when it was announced, said Heinz.

DB did agree to let the GDL negotiate on behalf of both unions in December, but Weber said there is now the question of how the collective agreements will be negotiated between the unions.

"We feel a solution is in reach," Weber said.

Story continues below…

But Heinz said that this is just part of Weber's usual tactic.

"He always says that they are speaking, negotiatioing and listening to the GDL, but here we are, still arguing over the same thing since last fall," Heinz said.

In his interview with Spiegel, Weber confirmed that the industrial action had so far cost DB, which is still partly state-owned and -operated, €150 million.  

Negotiations with EVG are ongoing and "moving forward", said Weber. 

SEE ALSO: The man who stopped Germany's trains

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sabine Devins (sabine.devins@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,850
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd