In Germany, railway workers’ strike paralyzes rail traffic

The German railway workers have carried out their threat. Tuesday August 10, at 7 p.m., they disengaged massively, blocking the freight. Then, at 2 am, the drivers of passenger trains joined the movement, at the call of the union of locomotive drivers GDL.

Three quarters of mainline trains remained at the depot on Wednesday. Regional traffic has been affected in different ways depending on the Länder, but everywhere the disorganization has caused serious delays. In cities like Berlin, Cologne or Nuremberg, suburban trains (S-Bahn) ran randomly. “I took six hours to reach the center”, told a resident of Spandau, on the outskirts of the capital.

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At the main station, thousands of holidaymakers found themselves without a train. Eleven of the sixteen Länder are still on school holidays and “With the uncertainty of the Covid-19 epidemic, like many people, we have given up on leave abroad and here we are stranded! “, lamented a Bavarian mother on her way to the Baltic coast with her two children.

The conflict could drag on for months

The GDL union has broken off talks with Deutsche Bahn, with which it is negotiating a new pay scale for train drivers. Voted 95% Monday, the strike promises to be hard and long. Walkouts are scheduled for 48 hours at first, but if discontent sets in, as in 2014-2015, the conflict could drag on for months. Claus Weselsky, CEO of GDL, set the tone on Tuesday: “To my knowledge, there is nothing that sets the limits of a strike. “ He could call for a second pearl strike as early as next week.

The small GDL union, with 37,000 members, is playing the card of overbidding all the more as it seeks to establish itself as a central player in the sector against the other union in the branch, EGV

Employees demand a “Prime corona” of 600 euros from 2021, as well as an increase of 3.2% in two stages: + 1.4% at the end of 2021 and + 1.8% in 2022. The railway company offers them the same thing, but only in 2022 and 2023, citing the loss of income caused by the pandemic (5.7 billion euros) “It’s not the railway workers’ fault”, retorts Mr. Weselsky. In June, he made a remark which had considerably strained the situation: “ The little people have to make their pockets so that the managers drink champagne. Deutsche Bahn can save money elsewhere. “

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