Court ruling awaited in rail dispute; no weekend strike

2nd November 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 November 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Militant German train drivers organised in the GDL union pledged Friday there would be no strikes over the weekend ahead of a court ruling on the legality of the strike expected later in the day.

2 November 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Militant German train drivers organised in the GDL union pledged Friday there would be no strikes over the weekend ahead of a court ruling on the legality of the strike expected later in the day.

The GDL, which has brought much of Germany's commuter traffic to a halt repeatedly over recent weeks, said it aimed to target goods traffic, if a labour court sitting in the eastern city of Chemnitz upheld its appeal.

"Even if the court rules in our favour, there will be no strikes on Saturday or Sunday, either in goods or passenger traffic," a union spokesman said in Frankfurt.

"Strikes will start at the earliest on Monday," he added.

The union, which represents some 15,000 of DB's 20,000 drivers, is pursuing a 31-per-cent wage demand and, more crucially, a wage deal separate from that agreed between DB and other unions.

The Chemnitz court on October 5 banned strikes targeting the 4,800 goods trains that the state-owned Deutsche Bahn (DB) runs daily on its 34,000 kilometres of track.

The Chemnitz court also ruled against strikes targeting the long-distance and high-speed inter-city and cross-border passenger services operated by DB.

A goods strike would seriously affect Germany's key carmaking, steel and chemicals sectors, with analysts putting the total costs at up to 50 million euros (75 million dollars) a day. More than half the trains run across international borders.

Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee expressed alarm at plans to target goods traffic.

"It's not unlikely that if goods traffic is negatively affected over days or weeks, or even months, that this would cause serious damage to the economy," he told ARD national television Friday.

"We must stop that," the transport minister, who is piloting a part-privatisation bill for DB through parliament, said.

The drivers seriously disrupted commuter and regional passenger services with a 30-hour strike on October 25 and 26.

DB, Europe's biggest rail operator, carries more than 5 million passengers daily, 4.8 million of them using its regional and commuter services.

DPA

Subject: German news

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