Passenger transport by train will be halted for six days as part of a protest by the train drivers’ union to force state operator Deutsche Bahn to discuss demands. The measure of pressure coincides with a paralysis of freight transport and a particularly weak moment for the German economy.
This is the fourth rail strike since last November, and it started just two weeks after the previous strike. According to Deutsche Bahn, the measure affects 80% of long-distance routes and the supply chain of chemical and steel products.
“European cargo traffic through the Alps, Poland, or Scandinavia, as well as ports in the Netherlands or Belgium, will also be affected,” warns Deutsche Bahn.
The number of shipments has already decreased, as many customers have canceled shipments even before the strike.
Disagreements over salaries and working hours triggered this series of protests by the GDL union, which failed to achieve changes in the position of the state-owned company that oversees operations. on the country’s railways.
The drivers requested a reduction from 38 to 35 hours per week without a pay cut, to which Deutsche Bahn’s response was negative, calling the demand a “repetition of the known maximum demand. ”
The strike forced users to find alternatives to land and air transport, as they had done in previous strikes. The first two lasted 24 hours, and the last three days.
Only one in five long-distance trains will remain active during the stoppage, which will last until 6:00 p.m. on Monday. The impact is minimal on local or interregional routes, which, in some cases, are run by private companies that continue normal operations.
A spokesman for the operator pointed out that it was time to sit down at the table to talk, given the “huge economic impact” that the six-day strike would have, and union leader Claus Weselsky assured them that they were ready. to be given, but regretted that his counterpart was out of tune.
“We had to stop longer and more radically because railroad management resisted the advice,” Weselsky complained.
The German Transport Minister, Volker Wissing, warned in statements on public radio Deutschlandfunk that he did not rule out the creation of an arbitration process due to the small possibility of a rapprochement between the positions.
“If things are at such a stalemate that we obviously can’t talk to each other anymore, then we need mediation or arbitration immediately,” Wissing said.
Experts say the closures could cost the already weak German economy up to $1.1 billion.
The train drivers’ protest joins other demonstrations that show the growing social discontent in the country, such as a night takeover in Hamburg by farmers, who will tour the city with more than 100 tractors.
Supply chains are already suffering from the conflict in the Red Sea, where shipping routes have been attacked by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.