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German train drivers union announces new wave of strikes

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
German train drivers union announces new wave of strikes
A regional Deutsche Bahn train in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hauke-Christian Dittrich

German train drivers union GDL on Monday announced a "wave of strikes" starting this week, after talks with rail operator Deutsche Bahn over better pay and a shorter work week broke down.

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The first strike will last for 35 hours and begin at 6 pm Wednesday for cargo services, and at 2 am on Thursday for passenger rail, GDL boss Claus Weselsky told reporters. After that there will be further strikes without announcements.

"We are starting a so-called wave of strikes," he said, which will be announced "when we think the time is right" and no longer 48 hours in advance as has been the case in the past.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is being hit by strikes almost every day

As a result, "rail is no longer a reliable means of transport", he added.

As well as pushing for a salary hike to help train drivers cope with the higher cost of living, the GDL union is pushing for a reduced working week of 35 hours, down from 38 hours, with no loss in wages.

Deutsche Bahn says it has made concessions amounting to up to 13 percent more pay, as well as the option of cutting the work week by one hour from 2026.

"The first strike will last for 35 hours so everyone in the country can feel what we are talking about," Weselsky said, adding that further strikes would follow.

A multi-day walkout by train drivers in January caused travel misery for thousands of passengers, and heaped further pressure on supply chains already disrupted by tensions in the Middle East.

Deutsche Bahn estimates that each strike day costs the German economy "a low two-digit million figure"

Deutsche Bahn's human resources director Martin Seiler sharply condemned the union's announcement, accusing GDL of "stubbornly and selfishly" insisting on its maximum demands even though these were "unachievable"..

Earlier on Monday, the Verdi trade union announced that Lufthansa ground staff would stage a two-day strike from Thursday, accusing management at the airline group of showing "no willingness" to come up with an improved offer.

READ ALSO: Lufthansa ground staff in Germany to stage another airport strike

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Jorge B. 2024/03/04 12:56
If the strike will affect me, what should I do to get to my destination as quickly as possible?

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