Railway strike to disrupt German freight and passenger transport again

Railway strike to disrupt German freight and passenger transport again
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This latest action in a series of strikes underlines the deepening rift over pay and working conditions, with major implications for rail operations across the country.

Germany is bracing itself for another round of rail strikes as the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) calls for a halt to freight traffic from 6 pm on Wednesday 6 March 2024. The strike, which is expected to last 35 hours until 05:00 on Friday 8 March 2024, is a continuation of the unresolved pay dispute with Deutsche Bahn (DB), the national rail operator. This disruption is expected to have a significant impact on rail freight, although the Salzburg-Kufstein corridor (Deutsches Eck) is reported to remain unaffected.

As well as announcing this immediate action, GDL has also signaled the possibility of further strikes, which, according to GDL leader Claus Weselsky, could take place without the usual 48 hours' notice. This new approach threatens to significantly disrupt rail transport and logistics, affecting millions of travelers and the wider economy.

At the heart of the dispute are GDL's demands, which DB criticizes as unrealistic and damaging to the stability of the rail system. "We are still willing to find constructive but realistic solutions. However, the GDL's maximum demands are unrealistic and pose a massive threat to the railway system," said Martin Seiler, DB Board Member for Human Resources.

The GDL's strike announcement follows a breakdown in negotiations over pay and working hours, with one of the union's key demands being a reduction in the standard working week from 38 to 35 hours without a pay cut. This demand, according to the GDL, highlights the wider issue of work-life balance and workers' rights. Deutsche Bahn claims that meeting the GDL's demands is not financially viable and would exacerbate the industry's already critical staffing shortages.

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