“Open declaration of war”: Potential Weselsky successor shoots against Deutsche Bahn

“Open declaration of war”
Potential Weselsky successor shoots against Deutsche Bahn

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Deutsche Bahn and the train drivers’ union GDL have agreed on a collective agreement. GDL boss Weselsky wants to retire in the fall. His designated successor is now settling accounts with the railway management. However, he has good news for passengers.

There is no improvement in sight in the relationship between the management of Deutsche Bahn and the top of the locomotive drivers’ union GDL. It’s not just because the people involved don’t get along as people, said Deputy Federal Executive Board member Mario Reiß to the “Tagesspiegel”. The railway board also has to “change its approach towards the GDL.”

Reiss is considered the likely successor to GDL boss Claus Weselsky, who is retiring in the fall. “The railway is the only company in Germany to apply the uniform tariff law – that is an open declaration of war against the GDL,” criticized Reiß.

The controversial law stipulates that only the collective agreement of the larger union applies in the 300 sub-companies of Deutsche Bahn. Since the penultimate round of collective bargaining, many GDL train drivers have found themselves in so-called “blue companies” in which the rival union EVG has the majority.

Reiß cannot imagine reconciliation with the larger EVG and a collective bargaining community. From his point of view, the railway is applying the uniform tariff law not least because of pressure from the EVG. “Our trade union competitors tried to hide their weakness in working with the employer,” he said.

Reiß gave passengers hope that the next round of tariffs with Deutsche Bahn in 2026 would not result in repeated rail strikes for months. “It is entirely possible that we can achieve a decent result in the next round of collective bargaining with Deutsche Bahn without much stress. But it is also clear that both sides are needed for this.”

Reiß feels prepared for public criticism of rail strikes. “It is admirable how much malice and criticism Claus Weselsky has taken on himself,” he said. Reiß can imagine that the GDL will appear more publicly as a team in the future, but he also believes he is sufficiently resilient. “I think I’m up to the task,” he emphasized. At the same time, Reiß has planned to do some media training: “I have to work seriously on getting to the heart of our concerns as well as Claus Weselsky.”

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