Germans must again prepare for chaos on the railroads, which this time will last almost a week! Train drivers will strike for the third time for a record five days, starting this Thursday (September 2). This was announced on Monday by Claus Weselsky (62), president of the train drivers’ union (GDL). Thus, rail passengers and commuters must expect delays and cancelled trains.
The strike will last until 7 September
From 17:00 on Wednesday, employees working in freight transport will go on strike, followed by drivers working in passenger transport from 2:00 on Thursday. The strike will last until 2 a.m. on September 7 (Tuesday).
Veselsky said that this is one of the longest industrial action, and it is deliberate, as previous 48-hour strikes have not affected the railroad board in any way.
The railroads criticized the industrial action, which they say is not justified by anything. “The GDL management is only interested in expanding its power – and at the expense of passengers and the economy,” – said personnel director Martin Seiler.
The industrial action by rail workers has already paralyzed much of long-distance and local transport for several days twice in August, disrupting the travel plans of millions of passengers. Freight transport has also been affected. The latest strike ended Tuesday night into Wednesday last week. Railroads responded by introducing emergency timetables. Long-distance service managed up to 30 percent; regional service, which includes high-speed commuter rail runs, managed about 40 percent.
Here’s what rail workers are demanding
The GDL is demanding a 3.2 percent wage increase and a €600 bonus in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The railroad is ready to raise wages by this amount, but at a later date than the union is demanding. The employer is also ready to discuss the coronavirus bonus, although no concrete amounts have been given so far. The dispute is also over the upcoming reform of the employee pension system.
Rail boss Richard Lutz said at the weekend that the proposals and demands are not far apart and that a solution can be found at the negotiating table.
Flexible use of train tickets
Deutsche Bahn is trying to mitigate the effects of the announced five-day strike. As the company announced on Monday, rail travelers can use their tickets flexibly during the strike, speeding up their trips or postponing them to another day during the period until September 17. Refunds will also be possible.
The railroad hopes to be able to handle about a quarter of standard service when it comes to long-distance routes, while regional and suburban services will be able to handle about 40 percent. The company is appealing to travel if possible in the period before or after the strike.