February 25, 2024

Rail chaos threatens – Unions vote for indefinite rail strikes in Germany – News

  • The collective bargaining conflict between Deutsche Bahn and the train drivers’ union GDL continues to escalate.
  • The majority of union members voted in favor of an indefinite strike.
  • This means that Deutsche Bahn is threatened with strikes lasting several days and the cancellation of thousands of trains next year.

Members of the train drivers’ union GDL have paved the way for indefinite industrial action through a vote, GDL president Klaus Weselski announced in Frankfurt am Main. 97% of voting members were in favor of it.

“Overall, our colleagues sent a clear signal,” Wezelski said of the result. Indefinite strikes required 75% approval. According to Wezelski, voter turnout exceeded 70 percent.

No strike during holidays

GDL President Klaus Weselski once again confirmed that the declared “Christmas and New Year peace” would continue. He added: “No industrial action is still expected before January 8.” So that people can go to their families during Christmas and come back again without worry.

But things can quickly reach that point in the new year. Compared to previous warning strikes, the union president declared, “What is coming now will be stronger, longer, and more difficult for customers.” In principle, strikes following a strike vote are not subject to a time limit. Veselski stressed that the GDL is not talking about indefinite strikes. “We realize our responsibility.” At the same time, he explained that the previous strikes, which lasted a maximum of 24 hours, would not remain as they were.

There is no way out in sight

It is unclear when the two sides will resume negotiations. At the end of November, GDL announced that collective bargaining talks with Deutsche Bahn had failed, and subsequently also negotiations with the railway company Transdev. At the time, Veselski ruled out arbitration with the help of an outside mediator. There is no way out in sight.

This is what attackers want to achieve


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The main sticking point in the conflict is a reduction in weekly working hours for full-paid shift workers, as demanded by the GDL. The union wants to achieve the reduction from 38 to 35 hours. The railways consider this unachievable, among other things, in view of the shortage of skilled workers. In addition, the Federation demands, among other things, an additional sum of 555 euros per month, as well as an inflation compensation bonus free of taxes and fees. The railways have already promised, among other things, an 11 percent increase – but for 32 months.

In the current collective bargaining dispute, the union has stopped most trains from carrying passengers twice with warning strikes that lasted for 20 or 24 hours. Along with labor disputes by the rail and transport union EVG, there have been four warning strikes on railways this year.