Labor & Workforce

German court rejects Deutsche Bahn’s bid to halt train drivers’ latest strike

Berlin, Sep 2 (EFE).- A court in Frankfurt, Germany, on Thursday rejected Deutsche Bahn’s bid to halt the latest strike by its train drivers, who have interrupted the rail operator’s passenger and freight service for the third time in less than a month.

The labor court rejected the company’s urgent request for injunctive relief, according to public broadcaster ARD. The goal of DB’s management was to halt the job action by rail workers that began Wednesday among freight train drivers and was extended Thursday to passenger transport.

DB sought the injunction after the GDL train drivers’ union rejected the company’s latest offer.

The union’s chairman, Claus Weselsky, said that offer was “unacceptable” in part because it does not include any increase in 2021 pay.

The company, meanwhile, lamented the union’s position on its website, saying in a statement Monday that it had “already made the union a serious offer. One party cannot simply dictate the terms of a collective agreement.”

Like in previous GDL job actions this summer, the company said it will strive this time around to keep roughly 25 percent of long-distance trains and around 40 percent of regional and local trains in operation during the strike, which is expected to last until early next week.

It also recommended that passengers check train schedules beforehand and postpone their trips until after the strike, saying they will not incur any cost for those changes.

The company is offering a one-time coronavirus-related bonus of up to 600 euros and a salary increase that is in line with the union’s demands.

But a key sticking point is the time frame of the collective bargaining agreement, with the company offering a 36-month CBA that is considerably longer than the union’s proposal for a 28-month term.

The strike, which will run until the early morning hours of Sept. 7, affected only freight transport when it kicked off on Wednesday at 5 pm but was extended to passenger service at 2 am on Thursday.

The latest walkout will be the longest in a month-long campaign, with the previous job actions lasting 48 hours in the case of passenger transport.

The most recent strike concluded a week ago and severely disrupted train service in Germany, although crowded scenes at stations were avoided because most passengers had changed their travel plans.

GDL is demanding a 1.4 percent salary increase and a one-time 600-euro bonus in 2021 for all train drivers and other rail personnel it represents, as well as an additional 1.8 percent salary increase in 2022.

The union also wants a 28-month collective agreement, improved working hours and pension protection.

Besides meeting the union’s demand for a 600-euro bonus, the DB is offering an agreement that would run until June 30, 2024, and raise workers’ pay by 1.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2022, and a further 1.7 percent on March 1, 2023.

GDL in early June said summer strikes would occur after the collapse of talks with Deutsche Bahn, which last year reached an agreement with the EVG rail workers’ union for an agreement that ran for two years starting in 2022, included a 1.5 percent salary increase and ruled out job cuts.

The 37,000-strong GDL union is significantly smaller than the EVG, which has 185,000 members, but it represents around 80 percent of DB’s train drivers. EFE


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