German rail company Deutsche Bahn 'significantly improved offer' to striking drivers

21st November 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 November 2007, Berlin - State-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) made a "significantly improved offer" Wednesday to striking train drivers in an attempt to break an eight-month wage and conditions dispute that has caused serious disruption to rail services.

21 November 2007

Berlin - State-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) made a "significantly improved offer" Wednesday to striking train drivers in an attempt to break an eight-month wage and conditions dispute that has caused serious disruption to rail services.

The GDL union, which represents around three quarters of the 20,000 train drivers, said it would refrain from further strike action until at least Monday while it studied the offer.

By Monday the union, which has repeatedly called its drivers out on limited strikes over the past five months, is to decide whether the offer provides a basis for renewed wage talks.

No details of the offer were released. The GDL has consistently insisted on a separate contract with DB from that concluded with two other unions and demanded a 31-per-cent wage hike.

DB has in the past shown willingness to move on the wage issue but has refused to consider a separate contract, saying this would complicate wage negotiations at Europe's largest rail operator.

"We are prepared to negotiate immediately and at any venue," DB Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn said.

Under rising pressure from the government, the two sides engaged in secret talks Monday and Tuesday.

Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee has, however, insisted the broad coalition government will not break with the longstanding practice of not interfering in wage talks, even though the state wholly owns DB.

The GDL halted most German freight trains for 62 hours last week and has repeatedly knocked out suburban passenger services since early July.

The strikes have come as Tiefensee has been attempting to pilot a controversial part-privatization bill through parliament that would retain the rail network in state hands but sell off rolling stock.

DPA

Subject: German news

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