June 13, 2024

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Train drivers will go on strike from Wednesday

Train drivers will go on strike from Wednesday

After the Christmas break, train drivers' union GTL wants to go on strike from Wednesday to Friday – with heavy disruption expected on the streets due to farmers' protests. Railways went to court and was rejected.

From Wednesday night, Deutsche Bahn trains will be suspended.

Imago / Martin Wagner

(dpa) From the point of view of the Frankfurt am Main Labor Court, the German Locomotive Drivers Association (GDL) is allowed to strike in rail transport in Germany from Wednesday. The court rejected Deutsche Bahn's interim injunction at first instance on Monday, it announced in the evening. “GDL is not manifestly incapable of collective bargaining,” reasoned the Chief Justice. Deutsche Bahn AG doubts this, but has concluded several contracts with GDL in the past.

This meant that the federally-owned company initially failed in its attempt to legally stop industrial action as part of a collective bargaining conflict with the union. However, the railway can appeal the decision to the Hesse State Labor Court (LAG). The option is also open to railway company Transdev, which previously failed in parallel proceedings at the Labor Court. A verdict in the second case is expected on Tuesday. A date has not yet been set in the evening.

Possible restrictions on rail transport

If the railway fails before the Hessian state labor court, passengers will again have to prepare for remote restrictions on Deutsche Bahn's passenger transport between Wednesday and Friday. The GTL strike is scheduled to last across the country from 2 am on Wednesday to 6 pm on Friday. Not only Deutsche Bahn will be affected, but also its competitor Transdev. As with previous strikes, the effects could be felt hours before and after.

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Subject to LAG's decision, this is the third and longest strike in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute. Since early November, GDL has been arguing with the railways and other companies for more money. However, the crux of the matter is the union's demand to reduce shift workers' working hours from 38 hours per week to 35 hours per week with full wage compensation. GTL has already announced that talks with the railways have failed.

Warning strikes lasting a maximum of 24 hours have occurred twice so far. In December, union members approved indefinite strikes in a strike ballot with a 97 percent majority. Since then, long career conflicts are possible. GDL boss Klaus Weselski on Monday described the nearly three-day strike as out of proportion.

In court negotiations, the GDL scheme played a role in lending its members as train drivers to railway companies through “Fair Train” cooperatives. From the point of view of railway companies, the union also acts as an employer and therefore should no longer be allowed to conclude collective agreements. GDL, on the other hand, sees a clear organizational divide between trade union and cooperative. Also, no train driver is yet employed in Red Train and the cooperative is not yet operational in business. There is another case brought by DB against GDL on this issue.

Railways again offers rush hour timetable

Deutsche Bahn expects a strike by train drivers to affect millions of passengers this week. As in previous labor disputes in the current round of collective bargaining, it wants to offer an emergency schedule with severely limited services. “For these journeys, DB uses longer trains with more seats. However, a ride cannot be guaranteed,” the company announced on Sunday evening.

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During the GDL warning strikes last year, the railways had to cancel 80 per cent of its long-distance transport services. The effects of regional transport vary greatly by region. Trains are almost non-operational in some federal states. If strike participation is not fundamentally different, similar outcomes can now be expected.

“We believe that this strike is not only completely unnecessary, it is also not legally permissible,” said Deutsche Bahn HR Director Martin Seiler. However, the Labor Court in Frankfurt did not share this view.