German rail strike called off: operator
German railways operator Deutsche Bahn on Thursday announced an end to a strike that had paralysed rail travel in the country, after the feuding sides agreed to mediation.
"Thousands of customers can breathe easier: the GdL (train driver union) strike is over with immediate effect," said a Deutsche Bahn (DB) statement, adding that it and the union had agreed overnight to have a mediator appointed to settle their months-long dispute over wages, work hours and negotiating rights.
The strike, the ninth stoppage in less than a year, had begun Tuesday, initially affecting freight trains, but was extended to passenger services from 0000 GMT Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of two thirds of long-distance passenger services.
The industrial dispute centres on wages, work hours and negotiating rights between the small GdL union and the national rail operator.
In early May the union staged a nearly week-long walkout, the longest in DB's history, which industry groups estimated cost Europe's top economy almost half a billion euros ($550 million).
The GdL, which represents some 20,000 train drivers, is demanding a wage rise and shorter work hours as well as the right to represent other rail workers such as conductors and restaurant carriage staff.
That demand is effectively a turf war with the larger railway union EVG, which has more than 200,000 members, and which is now involved in separate, less heated, wage negotiations with DB.
Deutsche Bahn transports around 5.5 million passengers and over 600,000 tonnes of cargo in Germany every day.
© 2015 AFP