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Strikes: Deutsche Bahn to resume talks with Germany's largest rail union

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Strikes: Deutsche Bahn to resume talks with Germany's largest rail union
A Deutsche Bahn ICE train in Nuremberg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

After a narrowly averted strike over the weekend, Deutsche Bahn will meet with German rail union EVG on Wednesday in the hope of resolving their ongoing pay dispute.

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The time and place of the talks was organised in secret between the two parties and it is believed that negotiators want to lay the groundwork for the official round of negotiations next week.

The news comes just days after a settlement was reached between Deutsche Bahn and EVG in order to avert a 50-hour 'megastrike' on the national rail network.

The strike had been due to begin on Sunday at 10pm, but a last-minute agreement in a Frankfurt court on Saturday saw both parties agree to sit back around the negotiating table "swiftly" and attempt to find a solution. 

Nevertheless, the employees at several of Germany's smaller, privately owned rail operators such as Bavaria's BOB and BRB still went ahead with the strike action. 

READ ALSO: Megastrike cancellation: Why are trains around Germany still facing disruption?

In the ongoing dispute over wage increases - and particularly the minimum wage - it seems that the union and state-owned rail operator are still far apart from one another. 

"We are struggling with staff shortages on all fronts, so there really needs to be a step forward," Cosima Ingenschay, chief negotiator and deputy chairwoman of the EVG, told ZDF's Morgenmagazin on Wednesday. "If we don't get anywhere at the negotiating table, we'll have to go on strike."

What is EVG demanding?

In its negotiations with Deutsche Bahn and around 50 smaller rail operators, EVG wants is calling for a pay hike of €650 per month for lower- and middle-income earners and 12 percent for those in the upper bracket, with a term of 12 months.

Deutsche Bahn, on the other hand, has countered with an offer of a 10-percent pay rise for lower and middle incomes and eight percent for upper incomes, in addition to an inflation compensation bonus.

READ ALSO: Could Deutsche Bahn still see more rail disruption after cancelled 'megastrike'?

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However, the rail operator wants to set a contract duration of 27 months, meaning the union would have to wait more than two years to reopen pay negotiations.

Another key battleground has been the question of the statutory minimum wage, which so far has only been paid out to around 2,000 lower earners in bonuses.

Instead, EVG wants to anchor the €12.56 minimum wage in the official pay scale so that those on the lowest incomes can also benefit from the increase in wages that the union negotiates.

In the Frankfurt am Main court, Deutsche Bahn agreed to this, but it is believed that the full details will have to be thrashed out on Wednesday ahead of next week's meeting.

The next round of negotiations is set to take place in Fulda on May 23rd and 24th, and EVG is holding out the possibility of further strikes - both in DB and smaller regional operators - if no agreement is reached. 

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