Train drivers working for Germany’s national rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) are going on strike for 3 days starting Wednesday, 10 January, at 2 am. The strike will last until Friday, 12 January, at 6 pm and will greatly affect rail traffic across the country as well as internationally.
Massive disruptions are expected on Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance, regional and S-Bahn services during this period. DB will operate an emergency timetable, but this will only ensure very limited train services. The company is asking passengers to refrain from any unnecessary journeys and postpone their travel if possible.
The 3-day action comes on the heels of a 24-hour last minute public transport strike that began Thursday evening, as employees keep working overtime and being underpaid, according to the GDL union. The union is asking for timetables to be reduced from 38 hours per week to 35 hours per week, without a decrease in salary. They are also asking for a €555 per month raise and a one-time €3,000 bonus as inflation compensation.
Germany's train drivers union, GDL, calls for a three-day strike this week for higher wages and shorter working hours pic.twitter.com/7WJgaKP45l— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 8, 2024
“This strike is not only completely unnecessary, but we also consider it to be legally inadmissible”, said Martin Seiler, DB’s chief human resources officer. “DB is prepared to compromise. It is now time to negotiate again. The GDL leadership has overreached, it must finally come to its senses.”
Seiler said that DB had presented an extended offer on 5 January in which it had taken a major step toward the union’s core demand regarding working hours. On 9 January, DB also filed another urgent application for an interim injunction with the Frankfurt am Main labour court in order to avert the strike.
However, GDL called DB’s offer “insubstantial and poisonous”, saying it only provided some of the employees with the “opportunity to implement individually desired reductions in working hours with a corresponding wage waiver – in short, self-financed part-time work.” On wage increase, GDL said DB’s offer was inambiguous, only mentioning a potential increase, but not providing a concrete amount.
“With unbearable arrogance, DB AG, City-Bahn Chemnitz and Transdev are ignoring their own employees (…) For the GDL, it is unbearable how far the DB AG managers, financed by taxpayers’ money, have distanced themselves from the living and working conditions of their own employees and are now deliberately misleadingly pretending to generously approach the GDL with a «new offer»,” GDL said in a statement.
While an agreement between DB and GDL is nowhere in sight, passengers are asked to avoid travelling during the strike days, being able to reschedule their journeys to a later date free of charge. In case of cancellations, DB will also issue full refunds.