Weselsky is missing: New collective bargaining, new rail strike?

Weselsky is missing
New collective bargaining, new rail strike?

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After last week’s 20-hour strike, negotiators from GDL and DB are meeting again. Initially without union leader Weselsky. The chances of success are considered slim and a new strike is expected.

The head of the train drivers’ union GDL, Claus Weselsky, is not initially taking part in the second round of collective bargaining with Deutsche Bahn. “We simply have further negotiation dates elsewhere, we have other dates that we also attend as the GDL,” said the deputy GDL federal chairman Lars Jedinat.

It was said locally that Weselsky would only join the negotiations in the afternoon or evening. DB Human Resources Director Martin Seiler simply commented: “Well, everyone has to set their priorities. I’m here and it’s clear to me what my priorities are.” But GDL and DB have also arranged to meet on Friday.

Fronts hardened

The GDL and DB have been negotiating a new collective agreement for two weeks. A week ago, the GDL went on strike nationwide for 20 hours, around 80 percent of long-distance journeys and thousands of regional trains were canceled. The union is demanding, among other things, 555 euros more per month and an inflation compensation bonus for a period of twelve months.

The railway had presented the union with an offer in the first round of negotiations and, among other things, promised an eleven percent wage increase over a period of 32 months. The crux of the collective bargaining dispute, however, is the GDL’s demand for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full wage compensation. Railway human resources director Martin Seiler believes the demand cannot be met and sees no room for negotiation.

Next strike expected

Jedinat emphasized that the union also wants to conclude collective agreements for employees in the railway infrastructure. So far there are only collective agreements in these areas from the competing union EVG. This is significantly more represented in the railways as a whole and especially in the infrastructure companies. DB Human Resources Director Seiler said before the start of negotiations that he primarily wanted to talk about issues on which compromises were possible. He does not include the requested reduction in working hours.

Since the GDL has expressly linked the success of negotiations to an agreement to reduce working hours, the DB expects further strikes. “The next warning strike is definitely coming. We won’t take too much time with it,” GDL boss Claus Weselsky recently told the “Rheinische Post”. The union has already initiated a strike vote on indefinite strikes among its own members.

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