Strikes threaten from March 3rd: GDL breaks off negotiations with the railway

Strikes threaten from March 3rd
GDL breaks off negotiations with the railway

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The train drivers’ union has already struck the railway four times since November. Strike number five threatens from March 3rd. According to the group, the GDL prematurely declared the negotiations to have failed. Their boss Weselsky hasn’t moved an inch in four weeks.

In the collective bargaining dispute at Deutsche Bahn, commuters and vacationers are threatened with further strikes. The state-owned company confirmed in the afternoon that weeks of confidential collective bargaining talks with the train drivers’ union GDL and the railways had failed. The GDL dogmatically insisted on a 35-hour week with full wage compensation for employees in shift work. “We were prepared to take steps to reduce working hours that went far beyond our last offer,” said DB Human Resources Director Martin Seiler. “It is unbelievable that the train drivers’ union is still standing up from the table and thus threatening further strikes for customers.”

The GDL has not moved an inch in four weeks of negotiations. The railway had reached the limits of what was humanly and financially feasible. The train drivers’ union has not moved in the last four weeks. “There can be no solution to a conflict without compromises. We have reached the absolute limit of what is possible financially and in terms of personnel,” said Seiler. The railway has also made major concessions in terms of pay.

The GDL accused the railway of having broken the confidentiality agreed upon by March 3rd. But the GDL will not comment now and will stick to the agreement. However, she invited people to a press conference on Monday, March 4th. The negotiations were actually supposed to be completed by the weekend. After several strikes, the GDL had by then imposed a peace obligation on itself. According to Bahn, Schleswig-Holstein Prime Minister Daniel Günther and former Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (both CDU) also mediated without success.

Pressure on GDL has increased

The GDL has been negotiating a new collective agreement with Deutsche Bahn since November and has stopped work four times in the meantime. The last strike in January lasted five days. The pressure on the union to return to the negotiating table, even in view of the economic crisis, had increased from various sides. The GDL left this at the end of November because the DB’s offers were not enough. The main focus was on reducing the working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours per week with full wage compensation.

The GDL has already reached a collective agreement with a number of smaller railways, but this is subject to an agreement with the DB. The GDL also insists on negotiating for employees on the network – for example in signal boxes. The railway had rejected this because, in its opinion, the GDL did not have a majority of union members in any railway sub-company. The competing and larger EVG is stronger here.

Before the now failed round of negotiations, the railway had offered to increase wages by 4.8 percent from August and by 5.0 percent from April 2025. In addition, a total of 2,850 euros could be paid as an inflation compensation bonus. A shortening of weekly working hours is also possible. In their view, a new collective agreement should be valid for 32 months.

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