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STRIKES

Deutsche Bahn seeks emergency court injunction against rail strikes

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said Thursday it will take legal action to end strikes as train drivers began five days of walkouts on passenger services in an ongoing pay dispute.

Deutsche Bahn seeks emergency court injunction against rail strikes
Commuters in Munich on Thursday. Photo: dpa | Peter Kneffel

The ongoing strike action was not within “the relevant legal framework”, said Martin Seiler, personnel director for Deutsche Bahn.

“Therefore we must act in the interest of our customers and employees and allow the strike to be legally reviewed,” he said.

The Frankfurt am Main labour court will rule on the urgent application this evening, it confirmed on Thursday. The hearing on the interim injunction is scheduled to begin at 6 pm.

The latest walkout is the third strike in a month on German rail, and the longest yet, with the action set to last until the early hours of Tuesday morning next week.

Deutsche Bahn published the terms of a new offer to train drivers on Wednesday evening, as the strike began on cargo services, but it was rejected by the unions.

The rail company had proposed bringing forward a 3.2 percent increase in drivers’ salaries and agreed to coronavirus-related bonuses of up to 600 euros – a demand made by the union.

“We have now presented the third improved offer – without the GDL seriously entering into negotiations with us,” said Seiler.

“No person and no union on this planet could accept this offer,” Claus Weselsky, head of the GDL union, told German public television.

“The bad news for passengers — the strike continues,” he said.

As in previous strikes, around a quarter of normal long-distance services will run, while about four in ten regional and urban commuter trains will be operating as normal.

The strike action began on August 10 after union members voted 95 percent in favour, following the collapse of pay talks with Deutsche Bahn.

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

READ MORE: Here’s how to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany 

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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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