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GDL boss Claus Weselsky: Last strike this year (here in November in Berlin)

Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

The head of the train drivers' union GDL, Claus Weselsky, wants to give passengers a longer break into the new year after the nationwide warning strike from Thursday evening to Friday evening. "We will now carry out this strike action on Thursday and Friday, and it is the last one for this year," Weselsky said in the evening on MDR-aktuell.

"Then comes the ballot and the counting on December 19. And there will be no more industrial action, not even in the first week of January." Until 7 January, therefore, no further warning strike is to be feared.

SPIEGEL previously learned of the strike plans from trade union circles. The GDL had already assessed the collective bargaining negotiations with the railways as a failure after the second round of negotiations. The 24-hour warning strike, announced at short notice, is to begin at 22 p.m. on Thursday in passenger transport, and at 18 p.m. in freight transport. A strike so soon after the onset of winter and so shortly before the timetable change would be "irresponsible and selfish," emphasized Martin Seiler, Deutsche Bahn's Chief Human Resources Officer.

The last time the GDL went on strike was on 15 and 16 November. During this 20-hour work stoppage, a good 80 percent of the planned long-distance journeys were cancelled. In regional transport, the effects were even more pronounced in some federal states.

Dispute over weekly working hours

The GDL demands, among other things, a reduction in weekly working hours from 38 to 35 hours with the same pay for the new collective agreement. In addition, it wants to extend its scope of application to the railways and conclude collective agreements for areas of work in which it does not yet have collective agreements. (Read more about Claus Weselsky's last fight here).

The ballot among the GDL members, which started at the same time, is still ongoing. The result is expected to be available on 19 December. Indefinite strikes are possible if 75 percent of the participants vote in favor of such industrial action.