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Empty tracks at the train station in Darmstadt: a point of contention over working hours

Photo: Peter Henrich / Hen-Foto / IMAGO / HEN-FOTO

Due to the warning strike of the train drivers, which begins on Thursday evening, Deutsche Bahn expects massive restrictions on train traffic. In the run-up to the event, the head of the German Locomotive Drivers' Union, Claus Weselsky, has now announced even more far-reaching walkouts for the new year.

In an interview with the broadcaster Bayern 2, the GDL chairman assured that the warning strike would be the last this year. "We will count the ballot on December 19 and we will not go on strike in the first week of January, but after that the strikes will be longer and more intense." He wished that "neither for the passengers (...) nor for the freight transport customers".

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The renewed warning strike on Thursday and Friday is necessary because Deutsche Bahn with Chief Human Resources Officer Martin Seiler "rejects the negotiations on the reduction of weekly working hours, he rejects negotiations on collective agreements for dispatchers," said Weselsky. Seiler could "whine and pretend that we alone are to blame."

Weselsky did not accept the railway's argument that a reduction in weekly working hours was not possible due to a lack of staff. One has to think about cause and effect: "The reason is that the shift system as such is unattractive. In today's world, people value quality of life, the famous work-life balance, social participation and family life.« The reduction in weekly working hours would enhance the value of the occupations, which would encourage more employees to join the shift system.

Deutsche Bahn "ready to negotiate at any time"

The current warning strike is scheduled to start at 22 p.m. on Thursday evening and last 24 hours. In freight traffic, it is scheduled to start at 18 p.m.

The union's announced walkout was met with fierce criticism from Deutsche Bahn. The action before the second Sunday of Advent is irresponsible and selfish. DB board member Seiler announced that the company was "ready to negotiate at any time and in any place".

In the collective bargaining negotiations, the GDL demands, among other things, 555 euros more per month for employees as well as an inflation compensation bonus of up to 3000 euros. Particularly important to Weselsky is a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full wage compensation. Deutsche Bahn does not consider this to be feasible. The group is offering a salary increase of eleven percent over a period of 32 months.

In the ballot, the union lets its members vote on indefinite strikes. Such industrial disputes can be costly for the workers. As a rule, the union's strike pay only compensates for part of the wage losses that employees may incur as a result of industrial disputes.

Nevertheless, Weselsky expects more than 90 percent approval. 75 percent would be needed.