German rail strike halts half of all commuter traffic

25th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - A strike Thursday by German train drivers halted more than half the regional and commuter trains and caused congestion on roads in the major urban centres.

25 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - A strike Thursday by German train drivers halted more than half the regional and commuter trains and caused congestion on roads in the major urban centres.

The 30-hour strike called by the militant GDL union began at 2 am Thursday and was set to go into Friday. The union is demanding a 31- per-cent wage increase and a separate contract from state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB).

DB said the eastern part of the country was worst hit. "But also in western Germany, only half the trains are running," DB board member Karl-Friedrich Rausch said.

Munich, Stuttgart, the Frankfurt area and the Ruhr saw severe road congestion, as rail commuters switched to their cars to get to work.

The two sides in the dispute dug in their heels over the key issue of a contract separate from that DB has negotiated with two other rail unions, Transnet and the GDBA.

"We expect a reasonable offer," GDL deputy head Guenther Kinscher told national television, adding that there would be no contact with DB until a reasonable offer had been put forward.

The union is seeking to overturn a court ruling that prevents a strike on goods and long-distance passenger services. A decision is expected early next month.

The government has pledged to keep out of the dispute, although politicians have opposed the GDL demand for a separate contract.

Thursday's strike was the fourth in a little over two weeks and the longest to date in a dispute that began in the summer.

DB, Europe's biggest rail operator, carries more than 5 million passengers daily, 4.8 million of them using its regional and commuter services. The government wants partly to privatise its operations by 2009.

DPA

Subject: German news

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