Germany: train drivers called for “waves of strikes” from Wednesday


The platforms of Frankfurt station, February 2, 2024, during a previous strike (AFP/Archives/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Train drivers in Germany are called for “waves of strikes” from Wednesday, in a prolonged standoff over wages and working hours with the operator Deutsche Bahn (DB), the GDL union announced on Monday.

With negotiations at a standstill, “we are triggering (…) waves of strikes,” said GDL President Claus Weselsky. The first strike will last 35 hours and start on Wednesday at 17:00 GMT for freight and Thursday at 01:00 GMT for passengers.

These waves of work stoppages will ensure that “the railway (is) no longer a reliable means of transport,” according to Mr. Weselsky.

Resorting to the plane will probably not be a solution for many travelers: the Verdi union is calling for a warning strike at the German company Lufthansa on Thursday and Friday.

Other strikes will follow at the DB, and without 48 hours’ notice as usual, according to the union official.

His organization has already initiated four strikes in this social conflict, the last at the end of January having lasted almost six days, one of the longest in the history of German rail transport.

During these work stoppages, rail traffic was paralyzed throughout the country. Disruptions to freight transport come at a high cost to the already struggling German economy.

This new strike “will last a total of 35 hours (…) so that everyone in the (federal) Republic understands what it is about: the 35-hour week”, compared to 38 hours currently, declared Mr. Weselsky, whose the union is also demanding wage increases to compensate for inflation.

The GDL and the railways actually wanted to negotiate until Sunday. However, the union broke off negotiations prematurely, according to DB.

For the past year, Germany has been facing an increase in social conflicts in different professional sectors, in a context of price increases which are undermining the purchasing power of employees.

These demands also weaken the ruling coalition government led by social democratic chancellor Olaf Scholz, struggling with record unpopularity.

© 2024 AFP

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