Traffic: "Disproportionate" and "irresponsible" - criticism before warning strike

Before the big day of warning strikes in public transport in Germany, Germany's employers accuse the unions of excessive action.

Traffic: "Disproportionate" and "irresponsible" - criticism before warning strike

Before the big day of warning strikes in public transport in Germany, Germany's employers accuse the unions of excessive action. "Anyone who acts like this is disproportionate and jeopardizes acceptance of the right to strike," said the chief executive of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), Steffen Kampeter, of the German Press Agency in Berlin. The head of the EVG railway union, Martin Burkert, defended the joint warning strike with Verdi and emphasized that the right to strike should be used responsibly: "No, we're not exaggerating," said Burkert on Friday.

Traffic is expected to be completely paralyzed this Monday. The unprecedented warning strike covers the long-distance, regional and S-Bahn traffic on the rails, local public transport at many German airports, the waterways and ports as well as the motorways. The railway and transport union (EVG) and Verdi are fighting for more income in different collective bargaining rounds.

The logistics industry warns of a "supply chaos" and calls for the truck driving ban to be lifted on Sunday. The president of the industry association BGL, Dirk Engelhardt, told the "Bild" (Friday): "There is a risk of supply chaos and damage of tens of millions if goods cannot be delivered on time."

The President of the Association of Municipal Employers' Associations (VKA), Karin Welge, finds the comprehensive strike "not ok". She called on the unions to give constructive signals for the third round of collective bargaining for the municipal and federal public sector, which begins on Monday - alongside the collective bargaining talks at the railways, this is the decisive background to the warning strikes. "The unions should be careful not to overdo it," said Welge.

Kampeter warned that the fight for members should not radicalize collective bargaining in Germany. "A look at France shows where it leads when you go down the incline." In France, strikes are comparatively frequent - most recently particularly violently against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform.

The EVG boss said about the right to strike, "it's a sharp sword that we handle very responsibly". In Germany there are fewer strike days than in other countries. In France it is about political strikes with political demands, which does not exist in Germany, said the head of the railway and transport union (EVG) on Deutschlandfunk. The collective bargaining conflict between EVG and Verdi is about demands for payment and collective agreements.

With a view to the joint warning strike with Verdi in the respective collective bargaining conflicts, Burkert called it "certainly historical that we have the momentum at the same time that we are in difficult collective bargaining". Both unions are responsible for mobility. Burkert asked people for their understanding: "We know that of course we affect and meet very, very many travelers." But there is no other choice at the moment. The unions hoped that the employers would learn from this and put an offer on the table in earnest.

The airline association Barig, to which most German providers belong as well as international providers, criticized the actions of the unions as "irresponsible". "The disproportionately severely restricted mobility makes national and international traffic flows, the transport of goods, possibly important humanitarian aid deliveries and social coexistence more difficult," said Barig boss Michael Hoppe.

The previous day, Bahn HR Director Martin Seiler had asked the EVG to return to the negotiating table immediately. Kampeter also emphasized: "We call on Verdi and the EVG to return to the negotiating table without any ifs or buts."

What is unusual about the planned warning strike day is that it overlaps with the negotiations - namely the third round beginning in Potsdam for the 2.5 million federal and local employees. However, the procedure is legally possible, as Thorsten Schulten from the WSI institute of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade union, told the German Press Agency.

Because the peace obligation ended when the previous collective agreement expired. According to Schulten, nothing stands in the way of a large-scale warning strike with an overlap of two tariff areas. The employers see the legal limits at least exhausted in the comprehensive strike.

Kampeter criticized: "Large strikes that are supposed to paralyze a country are not warning strikes." The head of the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW), Markus Jerger, told the German Press Agency: "Companies and the population must not be taken hostage for demands that are not expedient in the current economic situation."

Standstill should prevail almost everywhere in public transport as a result of the comprehensive warning strike on Monday. The railway stops all long-distance traffic. Also in regional traffic "mostly no trains will run". Many airports are affected - including Frankfurt and Munich airports. Local transport is to stand still in seven federal states. Locks on important waterways and the port of Hamburg, for example, are also to be struck.