German train drivers' union votes for 'unlimited' strikes

The Local Germany
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German train drivers' union votes for 'unlimited' strikes
A board showing cancelled trains in Hanover on November 16th during a strike. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Moritz Frankenberg

The German Train Drivers' union (GDL) has voted nearly unanimously for 'indefinite' strikes after negotiations with Deutsche Bahn broke down. But you don't need to worry about travelling over Christmas.


A total of 97 percent of the members of the GDL train drivers' union expressed their approval for collective action in the ballot, exceeding the hurdle of 75 percent.

Talks with Deutsche Bahn recently failed due to one of the union's core demands: a reduction in weekly working hours.

Unlimited strikes can last much longer than so-called 'warning strikes', which are usually held for 24-48 hours. 

"What's coming now will be stronger, longer, harder for customers," union boss Claus Weselsky announced on Tuesday.

But don’t worry about getting around over Christmas and New Year’s, as strikes are only expected to begin after January 7th.

READ ALSO: German train drivers union rules out strikes over Christmas 

It is unclear when both sides will resume negotiations. At the end of November, the GDL declared the collective bargaining talks with Deutsche Bahn had failed and later also the negotiations with Transdev. At that time, Weselsky ruled out arbitration with the help of an external mediator.

“From January 8th onwards, you should expect longer labour disputes,” Weselsky told the Augsburger Allgemeine, adding “We will break the blockade of the Bahn (Deutsche Bahn)."


The last round of GDL warning strikes saw around 80 percent of long-distance train services cancelled around Germany. S-Bahn and regional train services were also unable to run for the duration of the 20-hour strike.

Disruption continued into Friday.

In the negotiations for a new collective agreement, the union is demanding at least €555 more per month for workers over a year, as well as a €3,000 tax-free inflation compensation bonus.

Deutsche Bahn has countered with this by offering a 11-percent pay rise over 32 months, as well as a €2,850 tax-free bonus to compensate for inflation.


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