No plans to hire foreign drivers: Deutsche Bahn

1st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Germany's state-owned rail company said Sunday it had no immediate plans to hire foreign train drivers to cushion the effects of a national rail strike expected next week.

1 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Germany's state-owned rail company said Sunday it had no immediate plans to hire foreign train drivers to cushion the effects of a national rail strike expected next week.

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 if the militant GDL drivers' union goes ahead with industrial action.

The union is expected to announce strike plans on Monday, following the breakdown of pay talks last week.

Bild am Sonntag quoted a senior manager as saying the rail operator planned to hire locomotive drivers from countries such as Austria and Switzerland as part of contingency plans to keep disruptions to a minimum.

The Deutsche Bahn spokesman said it would not be possible to deploy foreign drivers immediately because they would need to be taught about the German rail network.

The GDL is seeking a 30-per-cent pay hike in a wage deal separate from the 4.5-per-cent rise agreed with Transnet and the GDBA, two other unions representing the bulk of Deutsche Bahn staff.

The rail operator offered the same terms to GDL, 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 was due to expire Sunday.

The damaging strike, the first major stoppage at DB 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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