German strike called off, at least for Deutsche Bahn

Digital automatic coupling (DAC), source: Kai Michael Neuhold via Deutsche Bahn (DB)
Digital automatic coupling (DAC), source: Kai Michael Neuhold via Deutsche Bahn (DB)

The anticipated railway strike of Deutsche Bahn’s workers in Germany has been called off.
What was supposed to be the longest strike in German history is a relatively normal start of the week on Monday morning. Relatively, because the strike did proceed as planned for around 20 companies in the regional rail transport sector.

On Saturday afternoon, labour union EVG cancelled the 50-hour railway strike it had planned to carry out from Sunday, 14 May 10 pm up to Tuesday, 16 May midnight. It cancelled the strike only for employees of Deutsche Bahn, as the parties seemed to have found common ground on Saturday, a day before the strike was supposed to start.

Because there has been little movement in the negotiations with other companies, EVG proceeded with the strike of over 500 railway workers at Transdev Group, VIAS, vlexx, the Länderbahn and Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen AG. This strike started on Sunday 10 pm.

Deutsche Bahn

“DB AG declared on Saturday that it would meet our minimum wage demands. On the advice of the Frankfurt Labor Court, we have therefore reached an agreement to suspend the warning strike at DB AG for the time being”, said the labour union.

The narrative of Deutsche Bahn is slightly different. The company had submitted an urgent application to the labour court arguing the planned strike was disproportionate and damaging to uninvolved third parties. Deutsche Bahn sees this effort as successful, the result being that the parties are back at the negotiation table instead of facing mayhem on the railways this week.

Normal start of the week

“Rail operations started largely according to plan on Monday morning. Thousands of employees were contacted at short notice over the weekend to fill as many shifts as quickly as possible. In long-distance traffic, around 90 per cent of the regularly planned trains will be running today”, says Deutsche Bahn. “Restrictions can still be expected in freight traffic on Monday and Tuesday.”

For EVG, there was less reason to celebrate. “We only said that we would not go on strike at DB AG on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. From Wednesday everything will be open and possible again”, the labour union emphasised, pointing out that the negotiations are still ongoing.

The negotiations

The point where Deutsche Bahn and EVG found common ground on Saturday was the minimum wage demand. EVG demanded a 12-euro minimum wage without restrictions. Deusche Bahn had earlier agreed on the 12 euro but also capped it at 13 euro, a restriction that EVG objected to.

“At Deutsche Bahn, we initially put the issue of the minimum wage at the forefront. This was necessary because we can only manage together that the wage increases that we are fighting for now and in the future also reach 100 per cent of our colleagues in the minimum wage area.”

More demands

Now that this demand has been met, the EVG is focussing on other demand. It is asking DB AG to negotiate constructively about further demands, in particular the demand for at least 650 euros more per month as a social component.

“That is why we shouldn’t hang the strike vests in the closet just yet. We will only enforce our demands if we continue to make it clear that we are serious about this. If nothing moves at the negotiating table, the next labor dispute is foreseeable. You can be sure of that.”

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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German strike called off, at least for Deutsche Bahn | RailFreight.com

German strike called off, at least for Deutsche Bahn

Digital automatic coupling (DAC), source: Kai Michael Neuhold via Deutsche Bahn (DB)
Digital automatic coupling (DAC), source: Kai Michael Neuhold via Deutsche Bahn (DB)

The anticipated railway strike of Deutsche Bahn’s workers in Germany has been called off.
What was supposed to be the longest strike in German history is a relatively normal start of the week on Monday morning. Relatively, because the strike did proceed as planned for around 20 companies in the regional rail transport sector.

On Saturday afternoon, labour union EVG cancelled the 50-hour railway strike it had planned to carry out from Sunday, 14 May 10 pm up to Tuesday, 16 May midnight. It cancelled the strike only for employees of Deutsche Bahn, as the parties seemed to have found common ground on Saturday, a day before the strike was supposed to start.

Because there has been little movement in the negotiations with other companies, EVG proceeded with the strike of over 500 railway workers at Transdev Group, VIAS, vlexx, the Länderbahn and Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen AG. This strike started on Sunday 10 pm.

Deutsche Bahn

“DB AG declared on Saturday that it would meet our minimum wage demands. On the advice of the Frankfurt Labor Court, we have therefore reached an agreement to suspend the warning strike at DB AG for the time being”, said the labour union.

The narrative of Deutsche Bahn is slightly different. The company had submitted an urgent application to the labour court arguing the planned strike was disproportionate and damaging to uninvolved third parties. Deutsche Bahn sees this effort as successful, the result being that the parties are back at the negotiation table instead of facing mayhem on the railways this week.

Normal start of the week

“Rail operations started largely according to plan on Monday morning. Thousands of employees were contacted at short notice over the weekend to fill as many shifts as quickly as possible. In long-distance traffic, around 90 per cent of the regularly planned trains will be running today”, says Deutsche Bahn. “Restrictions can still be expected in freight traffic on Monday and Tuesday.”

For EVG, there was less reason to celebrate. “We only said that we would not go on strike at DB AG on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. From Wednesday everything will be open and possible again”, the labour union emphasised, pointing out that the negotiations are still ongoing.

The negotiations

The point where Deutsche Bahn and EVG found common ground on Saturday was the minimum wage demand. EVG demanded a 12-euro minimum wage without restrictions. Deusche Bahn had earlier agreed on the 12 euro but also capped it at 13 euro, a restriction that EVG objected to.

“At Deutsche Bahn, we initially put the issue of the minimum wage at the forefront. This was necessary because we can only manage together that the wage increases that we are fighting for now and in the future also reach 100 per cent of our colleagues in the minimum wage area.”

More demands

Now that this demand has been met, the EVG is focussing on other demand. It is asking DB AG to negotiate constructively about further demands, in particular the demand for at least 650 euros more per month as a social component.

“That is why we shouldn’t hang the strike vests in the closet just yet. We will only enforce our demands if we continue to make it clear that we are serious about this. If nothing moves at the negotiating table, the next labor dispute is foreseeable. You can be sure of that.”

Also read:

You just read one of our premium articles free of charge

Want full access? Take advantage of our exclusive offer

See the offer

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

Add your comment

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