Comment: There is a threat of a mega-strike at the railways: Mr. Weselsky, have all good spirits left you?
The train drivers’ union GDL takes the customers of the railway hostage again for their tariff demands and threatens to strike. As an outsider, one looks puzzled at the state-owned company, which has never had redundancies for operational reasons, but which continues to slide into the red. Really impudent, this Herr Weselsky.
Train drivers’ strike from August 10th? From Tuesday! If their strong arm wants it, then all wheels on Germany’s tracks stand still. The strike could last a long time, threatens Claus Weselsky, the head of the train drivers’ union GDL: “Judging by the mood in the workforce, the strike could not last long enough.”
Holiday travelers and commuters would all be affected. After a year and a half of restrictions caused by the pandemic, there is now a threat of another blow to the neck for employees, train drivers and consumers. The train drivers will – if possible – change to the car: the traffic collapse is programmed.
Weselsky and the strike: “Tactics, camouflaging, tricking, deceiving”
What does Weselsky want? Based on the collective bargaining agreement for the public service, the GDL is calling for an income increase of 1.4 percent plus a corona bonus this year and a further 1.8 percent next year. The employees deserved more than compensation for the price increase, argues Weselsky.
According to its own statements, Deutsche Bahn had proposed increases in incomes as in the public sector, albeit in relation to the airport sector. An “emergency collective agreement” had been concluded for airports because of the slump in traffic. The increase in income of 1.4 percent will not be there until October 2022, the other 1.8 percent not until April 2023. Weselsky accuses the railway of “tactics, camouflaging, tricking, deceiving”. The fronts are hardened. Weselsky doesn’t want to give in either. At the beginning of June, the GDL declared the collective bargaining talks to have failed and announced a strike vote on strikes. This should be counted on August 9th. Weselsky, the battering ram. A rail unionist without any reference to reality.
Despite losses and billions in debts: job guarantee at the railways
Safe: Deutsche Bahn employees have a right to fair tariffs and tough collective bargaining. But this is not the first time that Weselsky and the GDL have harassed the republic with their extra demands. As early as autumn 2014, he took the rail customers hostage with excessive demands. The railway and transport union (EVG), which is part of the DGB and has significantly more members, seems to be more capable of compromising. While the GDL has around 35,000 members, the EVG has around 190,000. Even then, Weselsky’s collective bargaining merely served as a test of strength between the two employee representatives in order to give each other a right to exist vis-à-vis their own members. Not more.
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Last year she did Deutsche Bahn 5.7 billion euros loss. The liabilities increase to 29 billion euros. While a purely private company would long since be about deletions and layoffs after the crisis, the employees of the national railway company enjoy lifelong protection against dismissal. The railway continues to stop. Many railroaders are still civil servants, since they took up employment before Deutsche Bahn AG was founded in 1994/99. The working conditions at the railway seem almost heavenly to outsiders, all the more incomprehensible how shamelessly the GDL disregards these privileges and demands more and more.
The question now is to prescribe compulsory arbitration in such an important area of services of general interest as the railway. Strikes would then no longer be the order of the day. Nevertheless, the tariff autonomy would be preserved. That is long overdue. Weselsky and his GDL belong on the sidelines.
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