Germany: train drivers strike over pay

Workers in the GDL union went on strike on Friday after refusing a pay offer.

Submitted by jef costello on October 6, 2007

In the first German rail strike since 1992, 8000 drivers from the smallest rail union went on strike between 6 and 9am. Deutsche Bahn, the german rail company, had previously obtained a court order preventing workers from striking on national or freight services.

The strike caused the cancellation of two thirds of the 750 planned national rail services and half of the 19000 local services. In Stuttgart two of the metro lines were shut down and in Munich the service was reduced to a single line running every 40 to 60 minutes.

The union has rejected the original 4.5% offer made to the entire workforce of 134000, demanding up to 31% for new drivers. They have also taken the divisive step of demanding a seperate wage agreement for drivers. Deutsche Bahn has since offered 10% and a working week shortened by two hours.

Deutsche Bahn used drivers who are still state employees to try to break the strike, as they do not have the right to strike. They also accused the union of intimidating other workers to make them observe the strike. The union made the counter-claim that Deutsche Bahn had deliberately cancelled services.