Rail freight recovers from another German railway strike

Land Transport

Source: Rail Freight, 2021-08-26

The strike of the German Train Drivers’ Union GDL has ended. This was announced in the night from 24 to 25 August. Deutsche Bahn has been working on getting all trains back to normal since then. However, there is no prospect of an agreement yet and the next work stoppage is already imminent. 

Deutsche Bahn expects the effects for rail freight traffic to be significant. DB Cargo says it is doing everything it can to make up for the backlog but takes into account that the consequences of the strike will be felt for a longer period of time.

In addition, there are problems with the overhead wires at Oberhausen and the defusing of a World War II bomb near Wesel caused extra disruption in train traffic to and from Germany on 24 August. In addition, the diversion route via Venlo (NL) will not be available until 10 September due to planned work. The strike started on 21 August for the transportation of goods, and had started earlier for passenger traffic.

Although the strike has ended for the time being, there is still no prospect of a solution to the wage dispute. There is disagreement about the term in which wage increases take effect, contract duration, a corona premium and company pensions. The Union is demanding, among other things, a wage increase of 3.2% and a corona bonus of €600 in 2021. Deutsche Bahn does not want to implement the wage increase in one go, but in two steps: 1.5% on January 1, 2022 and 1.7% on 1 March, 2023, with a term until the end of June 2024. The GDL rejected this offer.

German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer called on GDL and Deutsche Bahn on German television on 24 August to take a seat at the negotiating table. Scheuer went on to say that the federal government stands ready to oversee the talks. “Politics, business and travelers have no interest in this crippling strike.”

Meanwhile, the much larger railway union EVG has criticised the strike action by Train Drivers’ Union GDL. According to EVG Head Klaus-Dieter Hommel, the GDL is more concerned with itself than with the wage dispute. In addition to material demands, the strike action by GDL also has political goals, according to Hommel, which is why Minister Scheuer should keep himself out of the conflict, according to the foreman of EVG. Unlike GDL, his union does agree that the zero line will be maintained for the wages of rail employees for 2021.

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