German rail strike: freight as early as tomorrow

German rail strike: freight as early as tomorrow
© Deutsche Bahn AG / Volker Emersleben

Freight trains in Germany will stop at 6pm tomorrow, passenger trains at 2am on Wednesday. The strike was called by the train drivers' union GDL and is scheduled to last until 6pm on Monday 29 January.

The protest, in which union members are trying to force higher wages and better working conditions, will paralyse transport not only in Germany.

The drivers were not deterred by the new offer made by DB last Friday. In it, the railway promised drivers a reduction in working hours from 38 to 37 hours a week with full pay and a pay rise of up to 13 per cent. But the GDL rejected the offer:

"With its third and allegedly improved offer, Deutsche Bahn AG has once again shown that it is undaunted in its previous course of refusal and confrontation - there is no sign of any willingness to reach an agreement," the GDL said in its announcement.

The GDL union is demanding a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 per week for shift workers, with full pay, a €555 increase in monthly wages and a one-off €3,000 inflation adjustment.

DB rejects these demands, saying they would increase staff costs by 50 per cent. They are now proposing a pay rise of up to 13 per cent and a one-off bonus of €2,850, which would not be taxed thanks to the government's anti-inflation measure. According to DB, train drivers earn between €45,000 and €56,000 a year, including allowances and bonuses.

DB drivers in the GDL union have gone on strike three times since November, most recently in the second week of January. The latest strike lasted 64 hours in the passenger sector and eight hours longer in the freight sector.

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