German rail chief seeks state aid over strike

4th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 November 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Germany's state rail company has requested government intervention in a bitter labour conflict with engine drivers over pay, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday. It said chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn had written to Berlin, calling for a new German labour-relations policy that favoured big unions negotiating on an industry-wide basis. A small drivers' union, the GDL, is seeking a separate pay deal, arguing that bigger unions have sacrificed drivers' interests to

4 November 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Germany's state rail company has requested government intervention in a bitter labour conflict with engine drivers over pay, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.

It said chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn had written to Berlin, calling for a new German labour-relations policy that favoured big unions negotiating on an industry-wide basis.

A small drivers' union, the GDL, is seeking a separate pay deal, arguing that bigger unions have sacrificed drivers' interests to achieve broad pay gains for conductors, clerical workers and other staff.

The GDL won an appeal-court ruling Friday that overturns an earlier ban on strikes affecting freight and long-distance trains. A series of strikes on commuter trains has disrupted Germany in recent weeks.

Der Spiegel said the letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that a sweeter deal for drivers would "split the workforce" at Deutsche Bahn (DB), the federally owned railway company.

The bigger unions, and their Social Democratic friends in Merkel's government, have been hostile to the GDL.

The union has indicated that it plans to shut down goods traffic in a strike that would seriously affect Germany's key carmaking, steel and chemical sectors, which are all heavily reliant on rail transport.

Some 4,800 goods trains daily run on the 34,000 kilometres of DB track. Analysts put the total costs of a goods strike at up to 50 million euros (70 million dollars) a day.

A GDL spokesman has said the union, which represents some 15,000 of DB's 20,000 drivers, will consider calling strikes in the new week. It is pursuing a 31-per-cent wage demand.

DPA

Subject: German news

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