The train drivers’ union GDL has called for a strike again: most trains should be at a standstill from 10 p.m. The strike is scheduled to last until Friday evening – and will be the last one this year. The railway wants to maintain 20 percent of long-distance traffic.
In the collective bargaining dispute with Deutsche Bahn, the train drivers’ union GDL has called on its members to go on strike again. From this evening at 10 p.m. until Friday evening at the same time, passengers nationwide will once again have to prepare for thousands of train cancellations. According to the GDL announcement, the strike in freight transport should begin at 6 p.m. this evening.
All employees in the areas of long-distance and regional transport, as well as the employees of the S-Bahn in Berlin and Hamburg, are called to strike. In addition to Deutsche Bahn, the strike also applies to the regional train operators Transdev, AKN Eisenbahn and City-Bahn Chemnitz.
German Railways: “Irresponsible and selfish”
Among other things, the union wants to emphasize the demand for a reduction in working hours for shift workers. GDL boss Claus Weselsky declared the collective bargaining negotiations to have failed on November 24th because, among other things, the railway had not yet signaled any room for maneuver on this point. “The employers are stonewalling everywhere and are not prepared to give the employees the appreciation and recognition they deserve for the work they have done,” said the union, justifying the renewed strike.
Deutsche Bahn reacted with sharp criticism. “The train drivers’ union is spoiling the second weekend of Advent for millions of uninvolved people. A strike so soon after the onset of winter and so shortly before the timetable change is irresponsible and selfish,” said Deutsche Bahn’s human resources director Martin Seiler. “Instead of negotiating and facing reality, the train drivers’ union is striking for demands that cannot be met. This is absolutely unnecessary.”
Warning strike plus the onset of winter
Deutsche Bahn wants to maintain around 20 percent of long-distance traffic again during the warning strike. “That won’t really work in the Munich area,” said railway spokesman Achim Stauß in Berlin this morning, referring to the snow chaos in Bavaria. In regional transport, Deutsche Bahn expects major differences depending on the region due to the warning strike.
In Bavaria, traffic will largely come to a standstill due to the weather. This is not the case elsewhere, emphasized Stauß. Due to the onset of winter in southern Germany, there is already a traffic jam of several hundred trains in freight transport. The railway is again recommending that its passengers postpone trips or avoid trips on Thursday and Friday.
Criticism in the Short-termism
The Pro Bahn passenger association criticized the short notice of the strike announcement by the GDL. “We would like it to be announced two days in advance when the strike will take place so that passengers can prepare for it,” said Federal Chairman Detlef Neuß to the dpa news agency. In the most recent case it was only one day. “We would like a longer lead time so that home office can be agreed with the employer or a carpool can be formed.”
There are also a lot of travelers on Fridays who are going on vacation or home over the weekend. The effects of the warning strike would probably extend into Saturday. At the same time, Neuß emphasized: “We are not questioning the right to strike.”
GDL: No further strikes until January 7th
The last time the GDL went on strike at the railway was on November 15th and 16th. During this 20-hour work stoppage, a good 80 percent of the long-distance trips that were actually planned were canceled. In regional transport, the effects were even more pronounced in some federal states; in some regions there were at times virtually no trains and hardly any S-Bahn.
At the same time as the negotiations were broken off at the end of November, the GDL initiated a ballot for an indefinite strike. As Weselsky said, the union no longer wants to go on strike this year after the upcoming strike. “We will now carry out this strike action on Thursday and Friday and it will be the last one for this year,” he told the MDR. “The ballot and counting will then take place on December 19th. And there will be no more industrial action, not even in the first week of January.” There is therefore no fear of another warning strike until January 7th.
The GDL is calling for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week for shift workers, plus 555 euros more per month and an inflation compensation bonus. The railway has so far offered an eleven percent wage increase for a term of 32 months as well as the required inflation compensation bonus. The GDL rejected this as inadequate.
Calling the dbb
With the renewed call for a warning strike, the GDL is apparently also ignoring the call from the Civil Service Association (dbb) to coordinate negotiations for public sector employees in the federal states. “It would be absurd if our actions were torpedoed by strikes by our own member organization,” dbb chairman Ulrich Silberbach recently told the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”.
Negotiations for the public service are scheduled for today and tomorrow in Potsdam. The GDL is a member of the dbb.
Lars Hofmann, HR, tagesschau, December 6th, 2023 6:50 p.m
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