Strikes For Members

What you need to know about Germany's train strike starting Wednesday

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What you need to know about Germany's train strike starting Wednesday
A Deutsche Bahn ICE train in Nuremberg, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

German train drivers will stage a 20-hour strike starting late Wednesday after failing to reach agreement on pay increases, with rail chiefs criticising the walkout as "completely unnecessary". How will passengers be affected?


What's going on?

The GDL union announced members will strike from 10pm Wednesday to 6pm Thursday after demands for higher salaries and improved conditions were not met in talks.

"The discontent among the employees is significant, and their concerns are legitimate," said GDL chairman Claus Weselsky, adding drivers and other workers represented by the union, including train attendants, had been called on to strike.

"Now is the time to achieve improvements, there can be no delay." It is the latest transport strike in Europe's biggest economy as workers push for higher salaries to cope with inflation that has surged over the past year.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn's human resources chief Martin Seiler described the strike as "an imposition for rail passengers" and "completely unnecessary".

How will travellers be affected?

In regional transport, Deutsche Bahn has stated that it will try to offer reduced service when possible, or Ersatzverkehr (replacement services). The company oversees long distance and regional trains, in addition to the S-Bahn network of most cities.

"The extent to which this is possible varies greatly from region to region. In any case, there will also be massive restrictions in regional transport," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: How to get compensation for delayed or cancelled trains in Germany

Passengers have been asked to refrain from non-essential journeys by train during the warning strike or to postpone their journeys. Tickets for journeys on Wednesday and Thursday can also be used at a later date without any extra costs.

"The ticket is valid for the journey to the original destination, even if the route is changed. Seat reservations can be cancelled free of charge," it said.


What is Deutsche Bahn demanding?

In the wage negotiations with Deutsche Bahn, the GDL is demanding, among other things, an increase of 555 per month for employees as well as an inflation compensation bonus of up to 3,000.

Weselsky also attaches particular importance to a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full pay compensation.

Deutsche Bahn said it had made an 11 percent pay offer in the opening round of talks, along with an "inflation compensation bonus" of up to 2,850.

The GDL had made demands that would hugely increase personnel costs, including working 35 hours a week over a four-day week, and hefty increases to bonuses, Deutsche Bahn said.

The union represents about 10,000 staff in its talks with Deutsche Bahn, according to the operator.

Earlier this year, a series of strikes by another transport union, EVG, on the rail network caused widespread disruption.


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