German train drivers to stage fresh strike starting Thursday

AFP/The Local
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German train drivers to stage fresh strike starting Thursday
Passengers gather on the platforms of Hamburg Hauptbahnhof during a two-day GDL warning strike in November. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bodo Marks

German train drivers will go on strike from Thursday evening to late on Friday, their union said, marking the latest industrial action in an escalating dispute over working conditions.


The GDL union said drivers of freight trains had been called on to strike from 6pm Thursday, and drivers of passenger trains from 10pm. The action will run until 10pm Friday.

It is their second walkout in weeks - in mid-November, train drivers staged a 20-hour strike that led to the cancellation of some 80 percent of long-distance trains nationwide.

At the heart of the dispute is GDL's demand for working hours to be reduced to 35 hours a week, from 38 currently, without salaries being cut - which rail operator Deutsche Bahn has so far refused.

By refusing to agree to reduce working hours, rail chiefs are "not only ignoring the legitimate needs of their own employees", said GDL boss Claus Weselsky.

"They are also torpedoing urgently needed measures for successful staff recruitment."

This "jeopardises the future of the most climate-friendly means of transport - the railway," he said.

Deutsche Bahn's human resources chief Martin Seiler criticised the planned walkout as "irresponsible and selfish".

"Instead of negotiating and facing up to reality, the train drivers' union is going on strike over demands that cannot be fulfilled."

GDL had said at the end of November that its latest round of talks with Deutsche Bahn had broken down.

As well as the reduction in working hours, the union is seeking a €555 a month salary increase, and a tax-free, €3,000 bonus to cope with surging inflation.


This agreement would run for 12 months, with more negotiations to follow after that.

Deutsche Bahn has offered an 11-percent pay increase as well an inflation bonus of up to €2,850, but has rejected reduced working hours as excessive.

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


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