A 24-hour warning strike on long-distance and regional transport will once again impose far-reaching restrictions on passengers this Friday. The new strike by the German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL) began on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in rail freight traffic. Four hours later, the union expanded the industrial action to include passenger trains.
Hours before the warning strike began, the railway had removed numerous connections from its program. This meant that passengers were not threatened with a night-time stop on the open road. In addition, the trains will be right where they are needed when they start operating after the end of the industrial dispute.
As with the previous warning strike in the current tariff round, the railway assumes that it will be able to allow around one in five long-distance trains to run. In regional transport, however, there are hardly any trains on the road, especially in southern Germany. The railway is still struggling with the effects of the snow chaos of the past few days, especially in Bavaria.
In addition to Deutsche Bahn, the GDL's competitor Transdev is also on strike. The Nordwestbahn and the Rhine-Ruhr Railway of the group in North Rhine-Westphalia are affected. Transdev employees were also called on a warning strike in Hanover and central Germany.
The GDL has now declared collective bargaining at both companies to have failed. The crux of the matter in both cases is the GDL's demand for a reduction in weekly working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours with full wage compensation. Employers have so far rejected this.
GDL boss Weselsky told the Düsseldorf "Rheinischen Post" (Friday): "I'm sorry for the customers, but we currently have no other choice." Customers should complain to the railway, not the union.
The warning strike comes at a particularly bad time for freight transport. Due to the weather conditions in Bavaria, a large backlog had already formed in the past few days. "When the strike began, 170 DB Cargo freight trains were waiting to continue their journey, and now more trains are being stopped. It is feared that this number will double," said a railway spokesman. It cannot be ruled out that the warning strike will also lead to idle production lines in the industry. “Supply-relevant trains will be delivered to their destinations with priority,” said the spokesman.
The railway criticized the GDL's industrial action as irresponsible. The company wants to change the timetable this Sunday. Additional trains, long-distance and regional transport connections will then come. The warning strike shortly before the timetable change caused additional stress in the control centers.
The German Association of Cities and Municipalities criticized that the warning strike was announced at far too short notice. Citizens and municipalities have practically no time to adapt, said managing director Gerd Landsberg to “Bild” (Friday). The GDL is harming millions of people and the climate.
After the warning strike, passengers can take a deep breath. GDL boss Weselsky has ruled out further labor disputes up to and including January 7th. After that everything is possible again. The strikes in the new year will be “longer and more intense,” Weselsky said on Thursday on Bayerischer Rundfunk. The result of the strike vote on indefinite strikes is expected to be available by then. If 75 percent of those voting are in favor, the GDL can call for significantly longer industrial action, even lasting for days.
In addition to great annoyance for passengers, problems for the economy would also be expected in such a case. According to DB information, DB Cargo supplies German power plants with around 50 trains full of hard coal every week. Delays in delivery led to problems with the fuel supply. The steelworks are also dependent on deliveries by train: If supplies are not available for two to three days, blast furnaces may have to be shut down.