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Disruption in Germany as French strikes cause transport misery

Passengers in Germany are facing disruption on Friday due to major strike action in France.

Disruption in Germany as French strikes cause transport misery
Empty tracks at Lille Flandres station in France during the strike. Photo: DPA

Several trains and flights to and from Germany were cancelled on Thursday and there was also set to be more disruption on Friday, reported Spiegel.

As The Local France has been reporting, the biggest mass strikes France has seen since 1995 have entered their second day, with commuters and travellers across the country facing more misery.

After the country came to a halt on Thursday, the majority of transport workers announced they would continue the strike on Friday.

Passengers travelling to and from Germany are also affected. According to Deutsche Bahn, there are no long-distance trains between the two countries for the time being.

The rail operator said: “Due to a cross-industry strike in France, international long-distance traffic to and from France will be severely impaired from December 5th 2019. On strike days there will be no long-distance train journeys to and from France. It is to be expected that the strike will be extended and last several days.”

Passengers affected are being urged to check their connections in the coming days and make alternative plans. 

LATEST: French strikes cause second day of widespread disruption

Affected services include: 

  • ICE ICE/TGV trains Paris Est – Saarbrücken – Mannheim – Frankfurt
  • TGV trains Marseille – Strasbourg – Mannheim – Frankfurt
  • ICE/TGV trains (Munich) – Stuttgart -Strasbourg – Paris Est

According to Deutsche Bahn, journeys up to and including Wednesday of next week can be rebooked free of charge for the same journey on another day of travel. 

In addition, customers can get their tickets for travel to France refunded during this period. The SNCF sales outlets in France are also rebooking connections to Germany free of charge, according to the DB.

Flights in Germany hit

Air passengers are also affected: Lufthansa was unable to say the total number of service cancellations on Thursday, but a total of 18 flights between Frankfurt and France alone were cancelled.

Other flights, for example to Spain, could “operate but be delayed” if French air navigation services also participated in the strike, the company said.

Lufthansa said it planned to “actively” get in touch with customers who had contacted them to inform “whether there are alternative connections or rebooking options”.

In a statement Lufthansa said: “Due to a strike by the public national service in France from December 5th to 7th, Lufthansa Group flights to and from France are adversely affected.

“Due to the length of the strike, flight schedule adjustments can also be published at short notice, so please check the status of your flight on Lufthansa.com regularly and directly before departure.”

Busy motorways

In view of the flight and train cancellations, Germany's biggest motoring association, ADAC, warned that roads both in Germany and France could be busier than usual.

In addition to possible traffic queues, roadblocks were also “certainly not ruled out, but we are not yet prepared for major disruption,” the association said.

The ADAC also urged motorists to “avoid crowds and demonstrations” if they came across any protests.

The 'unlimited' strikes have been called a coordinated union action in protest of President Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the country's pension system.

For the full background to the dispute, click here.

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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.

READ ALSO: 

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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