Train Drivers at Germany's Deutsche Bahn Begins Its Longest-Ever Strike

EU | May 5, 2015, Tuesday // 11:05|  views

People crowd onto a platform at the start of a week-long strike at the subway station at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, May 05, 2015. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Drivers working at Deutsche Bahn, the German train operator, have embarked on a new strike which is set to continue a week.

Employees are venting their anger at a refusal of Deutsche Bahn to accept the proposal for a 5% pay rise put forward by their trade union, GDL. Another key demand includes a reduction in working hours by cutting the working week from 39 to 37 hours.

On Monday freight train drivers stopped work, and in the small hours of Tuesday passengers train drivers followed suit, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

In a statement DB has warned of "harm" to passengers and "employees, but also to the German economy" prompted by the mass walkout.

On its website, the company is also offering an "alternative" travel plan [DE] which is being implemented "in a stable way".

It says "Berlin, Halle, Frankfurt am Main and Mannheim" are to be most affected by the strike. Most of trains bound for destinations abroad are running, and so are a third of those within the country, but in some regions such as Leipzig and Dresden for instance "only 15 percent" are operating as of Tuesday morning.

DB is also encouraging travelers to use the "alternative plan" as a "reliable" way to reach their destinations.

As many as 300 000 people are employed by DB, 196 000 of them in Germany, and the train operator transports 5.5 million people in the country on a daily basis.

Central Europe's biggest train operator and railway infrastructure enterprise is a joint-stock company where the Federal Republic of Germany is the single shareholder.

A dispute has been ongoing between GDL and the management for nearly 10 months.

Shortly before the strike, an official from the governing CDU party told Bild newspaper that "before a strike has begun, the parties [to the dispute] should talk to each other - like grown-ups".

But GDL's head told ZDF that the strike action was about "constitutional" rights of the trade union's members.  

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Tags: DB, Deutsche Bahn, Strike, GDL, employees, walkout, CDU


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