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German train drivers union rules out strikes over Christmas

The Local Germany
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German train drivers union rules out strikes over Christmas
An S-Bahn heading for Spandau pulls onto a platform in the snow in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Kira Hofmann

The head of the German train drivers' union has eased the worries of rail passengers by announcing a break from strikes over Christmas.

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“The GDL has never gone on strike over Christmas and will not do so this year either,” GDL union boss Claus Weselsky told the Leipziger Volkszeitung on Tuesday. "The Christmas season is a peaceful one - and it will stay that way."

Weselsky had previously shunned calls from Deutsche Bahn and Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) to agree to a Christmas truce, stating that he did not know how talks would develop in the coming weeks. 

"We don’t know how much negotiating we’ll have done by then,” he told DPA. 

The GDL is currently in the process of thrashing out a new collective agreement with Germany's national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, after its current pay agreement expired. 

READ ALSO: Is Germany set for more train strikes in the weeks ahead?

Amid the cost of living crisis, the union is demanding at least €555 more per month for workers over 12 months and a €3,000 tax-free inflation compensation bonus, as well as a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 for the same amount of pay.

In return, Deutsche Bahn has pitched an 11-percent pay rise over 32 months, as well as a €2,850 tax-free bonus to compensate for inflation. However, negotiators have refused to open the discussion of working hours, describing the GDL's proposals as "unworkable".

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Last week, after just a single round of negotiations, the GDL staged a 20-hour warning strike that paralysed large swathes of the rail network on Wednesday and Thursday.

This led to Deutsche Bahn cancelling a second round of talks that were scheduled for Thursday and Friday. 

READ ALSO: Why travellers in Germany could see rail strikes this winter

The next round of negotiations is set to talk place on November 23rd and 24th. 

Weselsky has threatened to ballot members on a so-called unlimited strike if he feels Deutsche Bahn aren't negotiating "seriously". 

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