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German rail union threatens week-long strike after failed talks

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The Local ([email protected])
German rail union threatens week-long strike after failed talks
Demonstrators from the EVG rail union gather in front of Duisburg Hauptbahnhof during a strike in March. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Reichwein

The union representing employees with Germany’s Deutsche Bahn in their wage talks with the country’s state-owned railway is threatening longer strikes – including ones lasting for a week.

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Just a week after the latest train and airport strikes caused headaches for both train and air travellers around the country, the EVG union is issuing a new threat to the public sector employers its working with – including Deutsche Bahn.

“The next strikes will last longer,” EVG negotiator Cosima Ingenschay told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview out Friday, adding that the union could “paralyse the train network for weeks” and that this type of action might be necessary “so that it hurts the employer.”

So far, the EVG and Verdi unions – with Verdi representing certain airport security screening staff – have kept their “warning strikes” to a day at a time. One warning strike at Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Cologne-Bonn airports last week went on for two days. So far train strikes have only lasted a day. Last Friday’s lasted for a single shift between 3:00am and 11:00am, although knock-on delays affected the network for several hours after that.

The EVG’s latest comment signals the union is ready to escalate in its campaign for inflation-related pay raises for its workers, who are employed both at DB and in around 50 local and regional transport associations around the country.

“It’s the train operators that would be provoking new strikes,” Ingenschay also said, after repeated rounds of collective bargaining – including the latest that failed on Wednesday – haven’t yet yielded an agreement between public sector employers and their employees.

READ ALSO: German rail union ends talks with Deutsche Bahn as more strikes loom

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“We want to avoid strikes if possible. We don’t want to hit the travellers at all,” she also said. “But Deutsche Bahn is apparently not interested in serious negotiations.”

EVG is calling for a 12 percent wage increase, or a minimum of an additional €650 a month, for workers to help pay for rising inflation and cost of living. DB bosses previously offered a ten percent raise for employees on lower to middle incomes and an eight percent raise for those on higher incomes, as well as a €2,850 one-off payment to help with rising living costs.

The next round of collective bargaining is due to happen at the end of May, with more warning strikes possible until then.

In the meantime, travellers in Germany may need to prepare for a May with yet more delays and cancellations. You can read more about what your rights are if either your train or flight is cancelled in Germany at the links below.

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