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Strikes For Members

Why are German train drivers launching more strike action?

The Local Germany
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Why are German train drivers launching more strike action?
A man waits for a regional train, operated by Deutsche Bahn, in Rostock on Monday morning. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jens Büttner

German train driver union GDL is staging its fourth strike in recent months. Why is the strike action taking place and is there any hope that they will come to an end?

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Why are GDL drivers in conflict?

A new six day strike began on Wednesday January 24th. It marks the fourth action by the GDL union in recent months.

Essentially union leaders want to put pressure on Deutsche Bahn (and smaller railway companies) to improve pay and working conditions for its 10,000 members. 

Among the core demands is a reduction to weekly working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours with full wage compensation, a salary increase and an inflation payment. 

DB said it had made an offer of an 13-percent wage increase going into talks, as well as a "bonus to compensate for inflation" of up to €2,850.

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Travellers wait in a station in Münster on the last day of the GDL train driver strikes.

Travellers wait in a station in Münster on the last day of the GDL train driver strikes. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Guido Kirchner

Negotiations not working so far

GDL said it had decided to call a fresh strike because Deutsche Bahn had shown "no sign of a willingness to reach an agreement" with its "third and allegedly improved offer".

Amid the strike earlier this month, GDL chief Claus Weselsky already said that drivers would continue striking through the winter if Deutsche Bahn didn’t present them with an offer which meets their exact demands?

The new strike this week has already been met by harsh criticism. 

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing told public broadcaster ZDF on Monday morning that, "I have zero sympathy for this form of wage dispute."

In his opinion, the wage dispute between Deutsche Bahn and GDL is becoming increasingly destructive. 

"I also don't believe that Mr Weselsky is doing himself and his union any favours with this style," added Wissing.

Is there any sign that strikes will end?

Following the action earlier this month, DB offered pay raises of up to 13 percent - up from its previous offer of 11 percent - and the option of reducing the working week by one hour - but the union has refused to settle.

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This has led DB to criticise the call to action

"The GDL is exacerbating the conflict," a spokesman said.

"Anyone who doesn't even come to the negotiating table with a new offer of up to 13 percent and the possibility of a 37-hour week with the same salary is acting absolutely irresponsibly," a Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman said.

Now it remains to be seen whether this strike will bring the wage dispute forward. Further action looks likely if the stalemate continues.

At the moment there are no new dates for negotiations between GDL and Deutsche Bahn.

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AP 2024/01/22 11:27
Let us bring the Autonomous trains on the rails asap!

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