German train drivers on strike again, no solution in sight

The warnings of the union of German locomotive drivers for a strike extension became reality. Germany sees another strike that started on 21 August and will end on 25 August.

Freight traffic was the first affected again, with train drivers abstaining from work since Saturday 21 August 5 p.m. On Monday, 23 August, at 2 p.m., the strike started affecting passenger traffic and infrastructure. This time, the strike could impact rail operations even harder since it takes place for more days and includes the weekend.

As the German train drivers’ union GDL underlined, “Deutsche Bahn hasn’t moved a step” towards a shared understanding and a solution, implying that the strike extension was the last resort for pressure. On its behalf, DB criticised GDL saying that the union avoids sitting on the negotiations table while playing political games on the backs of rail customers and passengers.

DB Cargo says it’s ready

DB Cargo cooperated with external rail freight operators during the first strike between 11-13 August to keep essential supply chains running. The company says it will use the same strategy again to keep disturbances to a minimum. Most importantly, DB Cargo managed to resolve the backlog of trains swiftly between the two strikes, claiming that this will help keep trains running for the next few days.

During the 21-22 August weekend, the German company did not face significant problems since freight traffic was low. However, from Monday 23 August on, it expects substantial disturbances to occur because industrial production will ramp up. DB Cargo the Netherlands announced that the first consequences of the strike are already clearly noticeable in train traffic to and from Germany due to cancellations and delays of trains.

No common ground

The two sides, DB and GDL, seem to have a big gap to fill before reaching an agreement. GDL frames DB executives as the root of injustice and claims they have not been moved by the strikes and the solidarity shown by multiple organisations. It also said that there is a war launched on GDL, with “filth campaigns” trying to stain GDL’s reputation and purpose.

On the other hand, DB backfired, saying that GDL is the one unwilling to cooperate. The railway company claims it made a goodwill gesture towards GDL proposing a corona bonus. DB director personnel, Martin Seiler, stated that “there is no reason for the union to abstain from negotiations” after that offer. Yet, GDL did not respond positively to the proposal. Seiler commented that the union is “about something other than solutions, and that it wants to work in areas of the railway where she has hardly had any members so far”.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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