Rail passengers in Germany face disruption as two-day strike announced

Germany's passenger train network faces a second round of strikes on Monday, with freight services beginning this weekend, adding more pain to the tourist season and already strained supply chains.

Rail passengers in Germany face disruption as two-day strike announced
Passengers at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The latest move in an escalating wage dispute will impact passenger services from 2am on Monday August 23rd and last 48 hours, the head of the GDL train drivers union Claus Weselsky told reporters Friday.

Strikes affecting cargo trains will begin Saturday August 21st and last four days ending at the same point, the union head said.

“Deutsche Bahn has up to this point not given notice that it will make any concessions in the pay dispute it started,” Weselsky said, referring to the German rail operator.

“The GDL sees itself forced to call for new strikes at Deutsche Bahn,” he said.

Deutsche Bahn criticised the announcement of the new strike, saying in a statement that it was “a wholly unnecessary burden for our passengers and freight clients”.

The strike will also affect lots of regional services, including the S-Bahn network in Berlin. 

Earlier this month, the union led a walkout after its members voted overwhelmingly in favour in an internal ballot, following the collapse of pay talks with Deutsche Bahn.

READ ALSO: German train drivers call strike in escalating wage dispute

On Germany’s long-distance rail network, the majority of trains did not run and those which did were much fuller than usual, during the two-day strike which began in the morning of August 11.

Deutsche Bahn’s freight service DB Cargo was also severely impacted, adding to delivery delays for German businesses already hit by shortages in raw materials and components from timber and steel to computer chips.

At the core of the dispute, the union is demanding a 1.4-percent pay hike and a bonus of 600 euros ($700) for 2021, and a further wage rise of 1.8 percent in 2022.

Deutsche Bahn had offered to phase in a 3.2-percent wage increase in two steps in 2022 and 2023.

Critics have accused GDL of using the strike to gain greater influence and attract members from larger union EVG – which covers railway workers and public transport employees.

READ ALSO: German trains resume normal service as union threatens further strikes

The power struggle is all the more critical due to a rule that came into force this year stipulating that the collective deal negotiated by the biggest
union applies across the sector.

The last major conflict between unions and Deutsche Bahn took place between 2014-2015, when over nine months, GDL organised nine rounds of strikes to demand regulatory reforms.

The stoppage in May 2015 of six consecutive days has held the record as the longest in the company’s history.

A shorter strike hit rail traffic in December 2018, when a stoppage was called for four hours.

Member comments

  1. It’s not like workers strike for the heck of it or like to for that matter, but a lot of times it’s the only way they can make their voices (and grievances) heard, and expose the injustices to the public, cause these corporations definitely wouldn’t give workers the time of day if they had their way. Good luck GDL, don’t let them turn you into rugs, and walk all over you!

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.