The next few weeks could be difficult for rail customers: the Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) is continuing its strike plans. The ballot in which the members vote on the labor dispute ends on Monday. On Tuesday, GDL boss Claus Weselsky wants to present the result. He’s waiting for over 90 percent approval. It is still unclear when the strike could take place.
Deutsche Bahn once again called on the union to negotiate again. “Nobody really needs this strike now,” criticized the company’s human resources manager, Martin Seiler. “At the end of the day, it’s an attack on the whole country.” After the corona restrictions, many people are just starting to travel again. However, the round of collective bargaining between the railway and the union is stalled. The two sides accuse each other of spreading untruths and of not being interested in negotiations.
It would be the first strike in the railways since December 2018, when the Union of Railways and Transport (EVG) called on its members to participate in a labor dispute. The GDL strike was much harsher in 2014 and 2015. The train drivers carried out their strikes in eight increasing waves. Among other things, the GDL is calling for wage increases such as those in the public sector of around 3.2% and a significant corona bonus for the current year.
Due to the pandemic, however, the railroad wants to focus on the airports “emergency collective agreement”, which would spread a similar 3.2% increase over a longer period and subsequent stages, with a 40 month contract term. In addition, there would be benefits for the retirement provision and the exclusion of dismissals for operational reasons.
The competition already has a new collective agreement: a zero round
The rival union EVG had already signed a collective agreement with the railway workers last fall. This year there was a zero round, at the start of 2022, employees will receive 1.5% more money. Terminations for operational reasons are excluded.
In the 2014 strike vote, 91 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the labor dispute. According to the union’s constitution, the votes of “75 percent of the voting employees involved in the strike vote” are required. At that time, however, there was also a legal opinion that the approval rate should be calculated based on the total number of members of the railway.
The union does not disclose how many of the 37,000 GDL members are employed by Deutsche Bahn. According to his own information, he represents a good 80 percent of train drivers and 40 percent of flight attendants. It is also trying to establish a larger base with dispatchers, stations and railway workshops. It competes with the EVG.