Germany’s train drivers have once again brought rail traffic to a standstill by commencing a six-day strike. They are pushing for their demands in an ongoing dispute with the country’s primary railway operator concerning working hours and pay.
Impact on Travel
The strike, led by the GDL union, will affect both passenger services and freight trains operated by state-owned Deutsche Bahn until 6 p.m. (1700 GMT/1200 ET) on Monday. This strike follows a three-day strike earlier this month and two walkouts that occurred last year, each lasting up to 24 hours.
As a consequence of the strike, train travel throughout the country and in many cities has come to a complete halt. Commuters and other travelers are now facing difficulties in finding alternative transportation, such as long-distance buses, car travel, or flights.
According to Deutsche Bahn, approximately 80% of long-distance trains have been canceled, and there are significant restrictions on regional services. Freight transport is also heavily restricted due to the strike’s impact.
Effects on Freight and Cargo
Deutsche Bahn states that “European freight traffic across the Alps, Poland, or to Scandinavia, as well as the seaports in Holland or Belgium, will also be affected.” Even prior to the strike’s commencement, a significant decline in cargo volumes had been observed because numerous customers had already canceled their shipments, as reported by German news agency dpa.
The GDL union not only seeks pay raises but also demands a reduction of working hours from 38 to 35 per week without any decrease in pay. However, Deutsche Bahn has consistently refused this demand.
In response to the union’s proposals, Deutsche Bahn has once again rejected them as a basis for further negotiations. According to dpa, the train operator categorizes the demands as “repetitions of well-known maximum requests.”
Possibility of Arbitration
As negotiations remain at a stalemate, Germany’s transportation minister has stated that the government does not exclude the possibility of initiating arbitration proceedings between GDL and Deutsche Bahn. Volker Wissing emphasized the need for mediation or arbitration if it becomes evident that communication has completely broken down.