German train drivers call for a strike from Friday

1st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - A militant train drivers' union said Monday it would stage a nation-wide strike in Germany from Friday to press demands for a new labour contract.

1 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - A militant train drivers' union said Monday it would stage a nation-wide strike in Germany from Friday to press demands for a new labour contract.

The GDL union is seeking a 30-per-cent pay hike in a deal separate from the 4.5-per-cent rise agreed by Deutsche Bahn with two other unions representing the bulk of the state-owned rail company's staff.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said it would continue to offer a limited service during the dispute.

Deutsche Bahn said Sunday it had no immediate plans to hire foreign train drivers to cushion the effects of the strike.

Such a move might be long-term option if a strike drags on, a Deutsche Bahn spokesman told Berlin radio station RBB after the newspaper Bild am Sonntag said drivers from Austria and Switzerland could be approached.

The GDL said the strike would affect both passenger and freight services. It said it would announce further details on Thursday.

The strike call follows the breakdown of talks between the union and management last week.

The rail operator has offered the GDL the same terms as the other unions, but also higher overtime pay, leading to a further rise of 5.5 per cent. The package meant a 10-per-cent rise in total, Deutsche Bahn officials said.

The GDL called its 15,000 drivers out in brief warning strikes in early August, but then agreed on a month-long no-strike period while mediation took place. That period expired at midnight Sunday.

The damaging strike, the first major stoppage at the rail operator in 15 years, looms as the German parliament debates a controversial bill to part-privatise the national rail company, while retaining the track and signalling in state hands.

DPA

Subject: German news

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