If you want to take the train in the near future, you may run into major and unsuccessful problems on the track: The German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) voted in a strike vote in favor of a dispute in the wage dispute with Deutsche Bahn. As GDL boss Claus Weselsky announced, a clear majority of 95% of members voted for the strike. Only five percent would have voted against the strikes. In the ballot, which was launched six weeks ago, 75 percent approval of the vote was required, but no minimum turnout.
Millions of vacationers and commuters are threatened with massive effects. The GDL does not envisage any small warning strike for a few hours in the wage dispute. She wants to put pressure on the railway management with major industrial action from the start. For Deutsche Bahn, the strikes come at an extremely unfavorable time: the number of passengers, which collapsed during the Corona crisis, has just started to increase again, and the trains are better staffed.
Now there is a risk of massive failures and huge costs. When the GDL, led by Weselsky, stopped work in 2014 and 2015, there was talk of ten million euros in default per day of strike action. Union strikes are particularly effective as the GDL claims to represent around 80 percent of train drivers and 40 percent of flight attendants.
Rail customers can opt out of scheduled train journeys regardless of strikes and be reimbursed for the fare if a delay of more than 60 minutes is expected. If you get on the train anyway, the usual compensation rules apply: if you are 60 minutes late, 25% of the fare, from 120 minutes 50%. Much of the trains could also be canceled on strike days in regional traffic and on S-Bahn trains. The disrupted operations could then also result in restrictions for Deutsche Bahn’s competitors.
This is what the dispute between GDL and Deutsche Bahn is about
At first glance, the demand for GDL and the supply for Deutsche Bahn do not seem so far apart. The union is demanding, among other things, wage increases as in the civil service of about 3.2% as well as a significant Corona bonus for the current year with a duration of 28 months. The railroad, meanwhile, offers 3.2%, but is spread over a longer period and later stages, with a contract duration of 40 months. In addition, there would be benefits for the retirement provision and the exclusion of dismissals for operational reasons.
The collective bargaining cycle is made more complicated by what is probably the most important point of contention: the existential fear of the GDL and its power struggle for a better collective agreement with the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) , which is significantly more important in terms of the members. For GDL, it’s a matter of survival and opportunities for future growth. Because the railway must implement the unified tariff law. In the company’s 300 or so companies, only the collective agreement of the largest respective union should apply. This is usually the EVG. The GDL has therefore announced that it wants to drive out the members of the competition.