After major breakdowns in rail traffic, including at weekends, the GDL train drivers’ union continues to strike despite growing criticism. The third round of strikes in the ongoing dispute over collective bargaining at Deutsche Bahn are expected to continue until Tuesday morning (2 a.m.). Neither the German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) nor the railway company gave signals for a compromise over the weekend.
For the first time, with the third national strike, passengers were also affected by the strike over the weekend. In Thuringia and Saxony it was the last travel weekend before the start of the new school year. According to Deutsche Bahn, the main focus of the strike is still in the federal states and metropolitan areas in eastern Germany.
According to its own information, the company was able to slightly increase the basic offer of long-distance transport on weekends. Around one in three long-distance trains are expected to run despite the labor dispute. In the first two days of the strike in passenger traffic, Thursday and Friday, it was only one in four. In regional and S-Bahn traffic, around 40 percent of the otherwise usual nationwide supply remained unchanged, albeit with regional deviations.
According to its own statements, Deutsche Bahn intends to keep long-distance services at 30% next Monday. In regional traffic, about 40 percent of the regular schedule is en route. The Munich and Nuremberg S-Bahn should run at least hourly. The railway also publishes current traffic reports online. She recommends postponing long-distance trips that are not absolutely necessary until September 6, the validity of the ticket will be extended.
Union versus union
Criticism of the strike does not come only from the economy. Critics are also heard in the union camp. DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann accused the GDL of special interests and called on the union to return to the negotiating table. “What we see critically is that here a professional group like the train driver is asserting its special interests against the general interests of all other railway employees,” said Hoffmann of the Rheinische Post.
The GDL asks for 3.2% more money with a duration of 28 months and a corona premium of 600 euros. At the start of the strike, the railway presented an improved offer. For example, the group promises a corona bonus of up to 600 euros for 2021 and a collective agreement duration of 36 months. Wages are to increase in two stages by 3.2 percent.
GDL chairman Claus Weselsky rejected the rail fare offer because it should not apply to all GDL members. According to its presentation, the state-owned company is asking that the scope of a new collective agreement be limited to drivers, as before. “This clearly shows that DB wants to take away some of the constitutional rights of GDL members,” the trade unionist told Spiegel. This threatens to divide the union with the first and second class members.