Tariff dispute: GDL announces longest rail strike yet

Escalation during the holiday season: From Thursday onwards, rail customers will have to prepare for the longest strike in this collective bargaining round yet. The head of the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) said he wants to paralyze rail traffic for five days, its president, Klaus Weselski, said Monday in Frankfurt am Main. It shouldn’t end until Tuesday (September 7) at 2am. This means that the third strike in a few weeks is now also affecting the weekend in passenger traffic. In freight transport, GDL members must stop working on Wednesday evening.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of passengers, labor conflict will again hit many travelers. The holiday season is still on, and the school holidays in Saxony and Thuringia end at the weekend.

“It’s one of the longest-running industrial strikes we’ve taken, and it’s deliberate,” Wiselsky said. He stressed that “in light of the embargo position of the DB directors, we are neither ready nor willing to undertake shorter industrial actions here.” However, Weselsky initially ruled out an indefinite labor dispute.

“Our message to train passengers is that we regret that we are entering into a third labor dispute.” Travelers should not be angry with the guild, but with the management of the train. No new tariff offer has been made.

Deutsche Bahn announced Monday that it will also offer a “reliable offer of mobility” for about a quarter of long-distance trains normally planned for the third strike. In regional and S-Bahn traffic, there should again be a base width of 40 percent of trains.

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“Those who can postpone their flight to some time before or after the strike,” the company said. Passengers can use tickets flexibly during the strike period and go ahead or postpone their flights until September 17. The amount can also be refunded.

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The last strike did not end until Wednesday evening of last week. The next day, traffic was largely normal again.

Since then, there has been no rapprochement with management in the collective bargaining dispute. In interviews over the past few days, Railroad President Richard Lutz has called on the union to return to the negotiating table. At the same time, GDL chief Klaus Weselsky accused of dividing the workforce with false allegations. Wiselsky replied on Monday that the CEO’s words “missed the bottom line to say the least.”

The Pro Bahn commuter association accused the union of not being sufficiently vigilant regarding its right to strike. The association’s honorary president, Karl Peter Naumann, said it hurts the railroad’s reputation and targeted traffic diversion. “I know enough people who say: If things continue like this, train travel.”

The timing of the wage increase is controversial

Railroad wants to increase wages and salaries by 3.2%, the GDL demands. However, the point in time at which individual levels should enter into force and how long the new collective agreement will be in effect is controversial. GDL wants 28 months. The railway show will run for 40 months. “This is a completely different collective agreement,” Wiselsky stressed.

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Again, not only train workers, such as train drivers, but also those who work on infrastructure are called.

GDL wants to expand its influence among employees in competition with EVG. It sees its strengths at risk above all through the so-called uniform collective bargaining law. This states that in a company with several unions only the collective agreement of employee representatives with a larger number of members applies. From the perspective of the Deutsche Bahn, this is the EVG in a large number of about 300 railway companies. GDL doubts that. (dpa)

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