This winter in Germany: rail strikes may occur for passengers

This winter in Germany: rail strikes may occur for passengers

This winter, German travellers may experience strikes as the German Train Drivers Union (GDL) prepares to bargain with Deutsche Bahn for improved pay and working conditions. Due to a dispute involving the German rail union EVG, long-distance trains and other services run by Deutsche Bahn were affected by a string of strikes that affected passengers earlier this year. A fresh round of potential strikes is now imminent in the winter, possibly extending into Christmas, as the GDL train drivers’ union prepares for negotiations with Deutsche Bahn on collective bargaining.

Strike action winter in Germany rail strikes

    • The current collective agreement expires at the beginning of November.
    • A cease-fire on-strike action ends with the agreement’s expiration.
    • This expiration opens the door for potential industrial action.
    • Approval by union members is necessary for such industrial action.
    • GDL head Claus Weselsky prefers a vote on “unlimited strikes” over “warning strikes.”

GDL winter in Germany rail strikes

    • GDL is considering conducting a member ballot before the first negotiation date on November 9.
    • Claus Weselsky is keeping the possibility of strikes during the Christmas season open.
    • Deutsche Bahn proposed negotiation dates and suggested a “Christmas truce” to the union.

Months-long wage dispute

    • Deutsche Bahn and rival union EVG had a recent wage dispute.
    • The railway and transport union used warning strikes twice this year to disrupt train services in Germany.
    • In late August, after a two-week arbitration process, an agreement was reached.
    • Employees gained a €2,850 net inflation compensation bonus and an additional €410 per month.

GDL wants a 35-hour week for shift workers

    • The smaller union, GDL, is now in negotiations.
    • GDL typically takes a tougher stance in discussions compared to its larger counterpart.
    • GDL is requesting both inflation compensation and a minimum of €555 more per month.
    • A crucial point of contention in the negotiations is likely to be the demand for shift workers to reduce their working hours from 38 to 35 without a pay cut.
    • GDL leader Weselsky highlights the shortage of train drivers, attendants, and dispatchers in the railway system.
    • He attributes the shortages to the unattractiveness of these professions, primarily due to the round-the-clock nature of railway operations.
    • Weselsky sees the reduction in working hours as a step toward improving the appeal of these professions and gaining societal recognition.
    • He anticipates a challenging negotiation process, noting employers’ reluctance to address the issue of reduced working hours.
    • Deutsche Bahn is unveiling its new 2023 and 2024 timetable along with customer price increases.

In conclusion, GDL’s leader, Claus Weselsky, highlights the critical issue of workforce shortages in the railway sector and suggests that reduced working hours could make railway jobs more attractive. He anticipates potential resistance during negotiations with employers. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn is proceeding with its upcoming timetable and price adjustments. As a result, passengers in Germany should be prepared for the possibility of rail strikes this winter.

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