SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – German train drivers have launched a four-day strike, their longest in 20 years, over a long-running payment dispute.
The walkout on Wednesday was called by the German Train Drivers’ Union, GDL, after closed-door negotiations between the union and German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, collapsed on Monday.
The industrial action starts with a halt in cargo services today and then spreads to passenger trains on Thursday, the GDL says, adding that the stoppage is scheduled to end Monday next week.
The strike, the sixth since September, is expected to disrupt the travel plans of millions of people during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the weekend.
Deutsche Bahn management slammed the walkout as “pure bullying” and accused the GDL of “paralyzing public life” in the country.
Deutsche Bahn said it hopes to maintain around one third of its services, but warned that major delays could be expected during the four days of protest.
The GDL, however, accused Deutsche Bahn of stonewalling in negotiations over workers’ demands for a five-percent pay rise for 20,000 drivers and a two-hour reduction of working hours per week.
The union has also demanded wage deals for nearly 17,000 train guards and other personnel.
In mid-October, GDL called for a 50-hour strike, halting two thirds of long-distance trains and leaving millions stranded at the beginning of weekend holidays.
Following GDL’s industrial action in October, pilots at German airline Lufthansa staged a two-day strike, causing flight disruptions for hundreds of thousands of travelers.