Germany’s practice drivers are on strike nationwide, so | World information
Train drivers and railway workers in Germany are on strike nationwide because of wages, reported the AFP news agency. The strike started at around 7:00 p.m. (local time; this is around 10:30 p.m. Indian Standard Time on Tuesday) when the freight train strike began. Hours later, the strike is set to expand to the passenger train network, the news agency added, noting that only one in four long-distance trains will be in service on Wednesday and Thursday.
This is the first strike in rail traffic in Germany since December 2018, when a four-hour interruption was declared. The topic has now dealt a blow to summer vacationers in Germany and exacerbated the logistics and supply problems of German industry.
Deutsche Bahn (DB), a German railway company that is also one of the largest operators of its kind in Europe, has branded the move as an “unnecessary escalation on the back of rail customers”.
“Just as people are traveling more and using trains again, those responsible for GDL are destroying the upswing that we urgently need in view of the enormous damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Martin Seiler, DB Board Member for Personnel and Legal Affairs.
The GDL (Union of German Locomotive Drivers), which represents workers in railway companies, is the union that organizes the rail strike. Its boss Claus Weselsky, in turn, accused the DB managers of “stuffing their pockets while the little ones choose their pockets”.
The union claims to be fighting for better wages for train drivers. His demands include a salary increase of 1.4 percent and a bonus of 600 euros for 2021 as well as a further wage increase of 1.8 percent in 2022. In contrast, Deutsche Bahn has offered a step-by-step introduction of 3.2 percent wage increase in two steps, however, with the intention of applying them in 2022 and 2023.
Critics have accused the GDL of using the strike to gain more leverage and to recruit members of the larger trade union EVG, which includes railway workers and public transport workers. Weselsky argued, however, that the GDL “deliberately chose this period of the week to limit the impact on weekend and holiday traffic” and that it was “never the best time” to go on strike.
(With contributions from agencies)