Deutsche Bahn: Strike at the railway - Weselsky relies on wave strikes

With a 35-hour strike at Deutsche Bahn, the train drivers' union GDL is bringing itself back into the consciousness of passengers.

Deutsche Bahn: Strike at the railway - Weselsky relies on wave strikes

With a 35-hour strike at Deutsche Bahn, the train drivers' union GDL is bringing itself back into the consciousness of passengers. "35 hours so that everyone in the republic realizes what we're all about: namely the 35-hour week," said GDL boss Claus Weselsky.

The strike on passenger transport is scheduled to last from Thursday at 2 a.m. to Friday at 1 p.m. For freight traffic it will start on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and end on Friday at 5 a.m. The union does not want to announce further labor disputes around two days in advance, as has been the case previously.

“We are starting so-called wave strikes,” emphasized Weselsky. He also did not rule out strikes during the upcoming Easter traffic. “This means that the railway is no longer a reliable means of transport,” he said. "It is very likely that the so-called emergency timetable will not be possible." The railway had always drawn up such a short timetable during the previous labor disputes in the ongoing tariff dispute in order to maintain at least a very limited offer.

Criticism of the GDL’s approach

Railway personnel director Martin Seiler criticized the GDL's approach as "stubborn and selfish". “These so-called wave strikes are a sheer imposition on our passengers.” The industrial action will have a significant impact on operations. The company announced that it would inform passengers as quickly and comprehensively as possible. “We appeal to the GDL to come back to the negotiating table and find solutions that are in everyone’s interest,” explained Seiler.

The pro-rail alliance Alliance also criticized the union's actions. “With so-called wave strikes, the union is depriving passengers of the opportunity to at least prepare for them and replan accordingly,” said managing director Dirk Flege. "The damage to the railway system is immense - and it will only get worse with such ad hoc strikes."

Tariff dispute so far unsuccessful

The most recent phase of negotiations between the two collective bargaining parties was broken off last week without any result. Weselsky once again accused the railway of refusing to accept the question of reducing working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week for shift workers without financial losses. The GDL has already backed away from many demands in the four-week negotiations in order to concentrate primarily on this point. "Despite all this, Deutsche Bahn AG has not been able to reach a compromise with us."

Passengers are looking for alternatives

The announced strike by the train drivers' union GDL at Deutsche Bahn is causing many passengers to look for alternatives to traveling on Thursday and Friday. “On Monday, demand for rental cars in Germany recorded a significant increase,” said the booking platform Check24. “On a nationwide average, 368 percent more rental cars were booked than in the previous week.”

The rail competitor Flix, which arranges both long-distance bus and long-distance train travel, also recorded significantly more ticket purchases for the two days of the strike than usual. "We are already seeing a significant increase in demand for FlixBus and FlixTrain tickets," the company said. "There are currently enough tickets available, but we are always able to provide additional capacity with FlixBus should this be necessary."

The ride-sharing platform Blablacar also recorded higher demand. On Monday this was 50 percent higher than a week ago, the company said. It expects a higher increase on Tuesday and the next few days.

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