Rail freight recovers from another German railway strike

The strike of the German train drivers’ union GDL has ended. This was announced in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. Deutsche Bahn has been working on getting all trains back to normal since then. However, there is no prospect of an agreement yet and the next work stoppage is already imminent.

Deutsche Bahn expects the effects for rail freight traffic to be significant. DB Cargo says it is doing everything it can to make up for the backlog, but takes into account that the consequences of the strike will be felt for a longer period of time.

In addition, there are problems with the overhead wires at Oberhausen and the defusing of a World War II bomb near Wesel (D) caused extra disruption in train traffic to and from Germany on Tuesday. In addition, the diversion route via Venlo will not be available until September 10 due to planned work. The strike started on Saturday for the transportation of goods, and had started earlier for passenger traffic.

No solution in sight

Although the strike has ended for the time being, there is still no prospect of a solution to the wage dispute. There is disagreement about the term in which wage increases take effect, contract duration, a corona premium and company pensions. The union is demanding, among other things, a wage increase of 3.2 per cent and a corona bonus of 600 euros this year. Deutsche Bahn does not want to implement the wage increase in one go, but in two steps: 1.5 per cent on January 1, 2022 and 1.7 per cent on March 1, 2023, with a term until the end of June 2024. The GDL rejected this offer.

German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer called on GDL and Deutsche Bahn on German television on Tuesday to take a seat at the negotiating table. Scheuer went on to say that the federal government stands ready to oversee the talks. “Politics, business and travelers have no interest in this crippling strike.”

Other union critical

Meanwhile, the much larger railway union EVG has criticised the strike action by train drivers’ union GDL. According to EVG head Klaus-Dieter Hommel, the GDL is more concerned with itself than with the wage dispute. In addition to material demands, the strike action by GDL also has political goals, according to Hommel, which is why Minister Scheuer should keep himself out of the conflict, according to the foreman of EVG. Unlike GDL, his union does agree that the zero line will be maintained for the wages of rail employees for this year.

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor of RailFreight.com and chief editor of the ProMedia Group online magazines.

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