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Union warns of new train drivers’ strike

The train drivers' union GDL has warned that their new wage conflict with operator Deutsche Bahn could escalate into a large-scale industrial dispute similar to the one that caused massive disruption three years ago.

Union warns of new train drivers' strike
Photo: DPA

GDL deputy chairman Norbert Quitter told Saturday’s edition of Bild, “We don’t want a conflict like in 2007/08, but we’re not going to let Deutsche Bahn make fools of us.”

Train drivers need protection, he said. “If the Bahn doesn’t make us a reasonable offer, we will defend ourselves – and we can do that for a long time,” he added. “The Bahn should not try to play the same game as in 2007/08.”

The last wage conflict between Deutsche Bahn and GDL lasted several months and led to strikes and disruption throughout Germany.

Rail passenger protection group Pro Bahn commented that a new strike could severely affect rail passengers. Spokesman Hartmut Buyken said, “We’re worried that there could be even worse chaos than in 2007/08. A new industrial dispute could turn many passengers away for good.”

The GDL is demanding that Germany’s 26,000 train drivers receive a unified pay level, as well as a five percent rise and better protection against redundancy.

The GDL is already planning warning strikes, though it is not yet been decided where or when. Deutsche Bahn described the warnings as “completely exaggerated and inappropriate,” and called for more negotiations.

DB’s personnel director Ulrich Weber said there had been good progress in the ten meetings that had so far taken place. GDL said these negotiations had failed.

DPA/bk

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CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

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Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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