Deutsche Bahn: Train drivers' union GDL announces strike - Bahn speaks of "unreasonable"

The German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL) will most likely disrupt rail traffic with a warning strike.

Deutsche Bahn: Train drivers' union GDL announces strike - Bahn speaks of "unreasonable"

The German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL) will most likely disrupt rail traffic with a warning strike. The union has made the first decisive preparations and made a strike decision, as a spokesman confirmed on Tuesday. Deutsche Bahn had previously gone public with the information - including sharp criticism of the GDL's approach. The GDL initially left it open whether there would actually be a strike and when exactly. Their spokesman announced a statement for 6 p.m. the same day in which all outstanding questions would be clarified.

The GDL and Deutsche Bahn have been negotiating a new collective agreement since last Thursday. Before the talks began, union leader Claus Weselsky had indicated in numerous interviews that his union would probably also have a labor dispute during the negotiation period. The DB representatives were all the more surprised a few days ago when Weselsky did not announce a strike on the first day of negotiations and instead negotiated for hours.

In collective bargaining, the union is demanding, among other things, 555 euros more per month for employees as well as an inflation compensation bonus of up to 3,000 euros. What is particularly important to Weselsky is a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full wage compensation. He recently repeatedly emphasized the importance of this demand for the GDL.

The railway does not consider a reduction in working hours to be feasible and has so far refused any negotiations about it. Instead, DB Human Resources Director Martin Seiler offered an eleven percent salary increase for a period of 32 months in the first round of negotiations. He also expressed his willingness to pay the inflation compensation premium; according to DB's idea, the first half could be transferred as early as December. “Too little, too long and at the end of the day not enough,” was Weselsky’s comment on the offer.

Despite the still major differences, both Seiler and Weselsky were able to draw positive things from the talks after the first round: the railway personnel director seemed satisfied that warning strikes were not an issue for the moment, the union boss noted a tight schedule for further negotiations yourself as a success.

After the good mood, everything is turned upside down again with the sudden decision to strike two days before the next planned meeting. "Now the leadership of the train drivers' union is showing its true face; it has never been interested in solutions. The decision to strike at this time is an absurdity," said Seiler in a statement. "If the train drivers' union actually goes on strike before the imminent negotiations, it would hold millions of people liable and trample on social partnership."

The GDL is the smaller of two unions at the railway. She represents many train drivers, but also negotiates for other professional groups, such as train attendants or parts of the administration. The railway has so far applied the GDL collective agreements in 18 of around 300 companies and emphasizes that only around 10,000 railway employees are affected by the collective bargaining that has now begun. For comparison: The railway and transport union EVG negotiated new collective agreements for a good 180,000 DB employees in the spring and summer.

The potential for major disruption to rail traffic is still great in GDL industrial disputes - precisely because many of the extremely important train drivers are members. In addition, the GDL is also explicitly calling on those union members to strike who do not work in the 18 companies where pay is made according to GDL collective agreements.