German train drivers call open-ended strike from Tuesday

18th May 2015, Comments 0 comments

German train drivers announced an open-ended strike of at least one week that will hit cargo services from Tuesday and passenger trains from Wednesday in Europe's biggest economy.

The GDL union on Monday called the latest industrial action -- the ninth strike in its ongoing battle with operator Deutsche Bahn -- just eight days after it ended a crippling, week-long strike.

"You can assume that this strike will last a little longer," union leader Claus Weselsky told a press conference.

Talks at the weekend with Deutsche Bahn (DB) had ended badly.

DB personnel chief Ulrich Weber strongly criticised the small union, accusing it of negotiating in an "emotional" rather than a rational way, and saying the latest escalation was "without rhyme or reason".

In a new tactic, the union did not specify when the strike would end, saying only that it would give the travelling public 48 hours advance notice before train drivers return to work.

The walk-out for cargo services will start Tuesday at 1300 GMT, and the strike hitting passenger services will be launched Wednesday at 0000 GMT.

Deutsche Bahn has a workforce of 300,000 and transports around 5.5 million passengers and 607,000 tonnes of cargo in Germany every day.

It had called the week-long strike in early May, the longest in its history, "completely excessive and disproportionate".

Germany has faced a series of industrial disputes in recent months, notably repeated strikes by pilots of Lufthansa over early retirement provisions, and stoppages at the postal and logistics giant Deutsche Post.

© 2015 AFP

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