Train drivers union calls 3-hour national strike

4th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

4 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The main German train drivers union said Thursday its members would stop working for three hours on Friday morning in an attempt to shut down the country's economically vital rail network in support of a pay demand.

4 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The main German train drivers union said Thursday its members would stop working for three hours on Friday morning in an attempt to shut down the country's economically vital rail network in support of a pay demand.

"Our members are no longer prepared to wait forever for a reasonable offer," GDL boss Manfred Schell said.

The GDL is demanding a 30-per-cent pay rise and an employment contract separate from the one DB has struck with two other rail unions.

The state-owned German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) pledged to maintain most long-distance services in response to the strike, which will take place between 8.00 am and 11 am Friday.

DB spokesman Gunnar Meyer said the aim was to run two thirds of all long distance trains during the strike. Goods services that failed to operate would run over the weekend.

But he acknowledged that regional services and the suburban "S-Bahn" services in the main cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich would be affected.

Details of the planned strike were announced hours before a labour court in the eastern city of Chemnitz was to rule on an application by DB to have the strike declared illegal.

DB agreed a 4.5-per-cent rise with the 134,000 rail workers represented by the Transnet and GDBA unions in July.

This was rejected by the GDL, which secured overwhelming support from its members for strike action and embarked on warning strikes.

Attempts to mediate in the dispute failed as a month-long no-strike period ended on September 30.

Appeals from Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee for strike action and the inevitable damage to the German economy to be avoided went unheeded.

The GDL claims to represent 80 per cent of Germany's almost 20,000 train drivers.

More than five million passengers use the services of DB daily, the vast majority of them using its regional and commuter trains.

The company runs 28,000 passenger trains and some 4,800 goods trains a day over its 34,000-kilometre network.

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

DPA

Subject: German news

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