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German train drivers' union calls six-day strike

GDL’s fourth strike to push its demands for higher salaries, reduced working hours

By AFP - Jan 22,2024 - Last updated at Jan 22,2024

Two ICE (Inter City Express) trains of German national railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) stand at a platform at the main station of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany on November 16, 2023 (AFP photo)

FRANKFURT — German train drivers will hold a six-day strike this week, the GDL union said, the longest walkout yet in an escalating row with Deutsche Bahn over pay and working hours.

The strike is due to start at 2:00 am (01:00 GMT) on Wednesday and last until 17:00 GMT on Monday. For freight services, the stoppage is due to begin at 17:00 GMT on Tuesday, GDL said in a statement in the early hours of Monday. 

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn accused the union of "acting absolutely irresponsibly".

It will be the fourth strike by GDL in recent months to push its demands for higher salaries to compensate for inflation, as well as for a reduced working week from 38 to 35 hours with no loss in wages.

A three-day walkout earlier this month already caused travel chaos for thousands of passengers, with 80 per cent of long-distance trains not running.

GDL said it had decided to call a fresh strike because Deutsche Bahn had shown "no sign of a willingness to reach an agreement" with its "third and allegedly improved offer".

The union will hold an 11:30 am press conference to give further details, it said in a statement.

Deutsche Bahn sharply criticised the renewed call to industrial action, saying it had offered pay rises of up to 13 per cent as well the option of reducing the working week by one hour.

"The GDL is exacerbating the conflict," a spokesman said.

"Anyone who doesn't even come to the negotiating table with a new offer of up to 13 per cent and the possibility of a 37-hour week with the same salary is acting absolutely irresponsibly."

Deutsche Bahn last year also clashed with the EVG rail union, which represents some 180,000 non-driver rail personnel, reaching an agreement in late August.

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