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Thursday, February 9, 2023

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Bahn returns to normal train traffic

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Deutsche Bahn has returned to the regular timetable since early Tuesday morning – the strike of the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) has ended for the time being. The striker confirmed the GDL. A railway spokesman said the railway was assuming that the trains would mostly run according to the normal schedule again over the course of Tuesday.

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Both sides want to draw a conclusion in the course of the day. One thing is already clear: The third and so far longest strike round in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute at the railways has led to far-reaching restrictions in freight and passenger transport and has hit train travelers and industrial customers hard.

However, the union has already shown that it can go longer: 127 hours in passenger traffic and 138 strike hours in freight traffic lasted the longest round of industrial action by the GDL in a collective bargaining dispute. That was in May 2015. It was only two months later that a collective agreement was concluded in an arbitration process. The strike that has now ended, however, lasted 110 hours in passenger and 118 hours in freight. This makes it the second longest in the history of Deutsche Bahn AG.

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A rapprochement between the two sides is not in sight. “After the strike is before the strike,” said the chairman of the GDL train drivers’ union, Claus Weselsky, in front of members at Berlin Central Station on Monday afternoon. It is up to the management of the railway whether there is another labor dispute.

It’s about money and influence

Apart from classic tariff issues, disputes are now and then also about the law on collective bargaining and the GDL’s sphere of influence in the group. The law came into force in 2015. It stipulates that in a company with several unions, only the collective agreement of the employee representatives with a larger number of members will be applied. In most of the approximately 300 rail operations, from the Group’s point of view, this is the rail and transport union competing with the GDL.

GDL boss Claus Weselsky is therefore forced to expand his sphere of influence to other trades and to become the majority union. In addition to the train staff, he therefore also wants to negotiate for workshop employees as well as for employees in the infrastructure and administration – areas that have traditionally been represented by the EVG.

Shortly before the end of the strike, Weselsky reiterated his demand for an offer that would enable the union to conclude a collective agreement for all members of the various rail companies.

In addition to these questions, the wage dispute is also about money. The GDL is calling for a total of 3.2 percent higher wages and salaries for a term of 28 months and a corona premium of 600 euros. The railway had recently offered a term of 36 months and agreed to the corona premium. There is also a dispute about the future form of old-age provision. (dpa)

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