German train drivers strike: vote count has begun

The German train driver’s union GDL started counting the votes over the strike ballot announced at the end of June. The union’s representatives forecast that 90 per cent of the votes will be in favour of the strike. The results will be announced on Tuesday, 10 August, around 11 a.m.

The call for strike results from negotiation failures between GDL and Deutsche Bahn. Specifically, the two sides have agreed to a wage increase of 3,2 per cent. However, they disagree on the increase timeframe since GDL wants it soon, while Deutsche Bahn wants more time to cope with the financial damage caused by corona.

The two sides have conducted four rounds of negotiations. Nevertheless, they did not find common ground since Deutsche Bahn’s latest offer was even lower than last year’s arbitration. As a result, the union is proceeding to a vote count that could result in massive train driver strikes because Deutsche Bahn “does not seem to be interested in an agreement”, said GDL federal chairman Claus Weselsky.

Where it runs aground

The GDL wants wage increases of around 3.2 per cent – in line with those in the public sector, with the agreed corona allowance of 600 euros in 2021. In the public sector agreement, the first increase of 1.4 per cent starts from October 1, 2022, while GDL demands this as of April 1 this year. The union also wants the further increase of 1.8 per cent on April 1, 2022, while DB says it needs a longer term of 40 months. “We need a slightly longer term to be able to cope with the huge corona damage”, said Martin Seiler, DB Human Resources Director. DB’s losses increased to around ten billion euros in 2021.

According to GDL, DB demanded an increase in the proportion of overdraft facilities from 20 to 40 per cent of the shifts so that direct staff can be deployed more frequently at short notice and announce the planning later. The train driver’s union does not want this, saying it will “make the employees, who are already stressed by irregular shift work, more flexible and thus burden them even more.” DB noted that there are no counterclaims or preconditions and calls GDL to return to the negotiation table.

Unresolved

Deutsche Bahn says its offer provides additional protection against dismissal, thousands of new hires and a pension plan. Seiler: “I’ll stick to it: anyone who thinks of long strikes with this package is acting completely irresponsible. On this basis, a solution is within reach”.

The group has already agreed to a wage increase of 1,5 per cent with the larger railway and transport union (EVG). The increase will take place between the beginning of 2022 and the end of February 2023. This year there will be no wage increase. Weselsky rejects such a zero round. Both unions are in compete heavily with one another.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Editor at RailFreight.com

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