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German train drivers reach accord to end strikes

Published on September 16, 2021

The German train drivers’ union and the national rail operator struck a deal Thursday to resolve a bitter pay conflict and avoid more strikes that have caused widespread disruption.

In a press conference, GDL union chief Claus Weselsky said the “compromise” deal was what train drivers had “earned”.

Union members will receive a Covid-related bonus this year of up to 600 euros ($707) and a further payment of up to 400 euros in 2022.

Train drivers will also see their pay increase by 3.3 percent in two steps over the next 32 months.

Standing alongside the union boss, Martin Seiler, the personnel director of the rail company Deutsche Bahn, said: “This agreement puts us back on track for a strong future.”

The union began its walkout on August 10 after members voted overwhelmingly in favour in an internal ballot.

During three rounds of strikes, the longest of which lasted five days, passenger and cargo services were disrupted across Germany, adding to supply-chain woes for businesses and causing headaches for holiday-makers.

The agreement also resolved differences over the status of the train drivers’ union within Deutsche Bahn itself.

GDL was set to lose out to other unions after rules came into force earlier this year which stipulated that the collective deal negotiated by the biggest union applies across the sector.

The last major conflict between unions and Deutsche Bahn took place between 2014-2015, when over nine months, GDL organised nine rounds of strikes to demand regulatory reforms.