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Rail Disruption in Germany: GDL Union Strikes Again, Sparking Outrage

Rail Disruption in Germany: GDL Union Strikes Again, Sparking Outrage
photo: REUTERS / Public domain/Berlin Alexanderplatz during strike in November 2023
07 / 12 / 2023

The GDL train drivers' union in Germany unexpectedly announced another strike on Wednesday, set to last from Thursday to Friday evening. This unplanned announcement outraged Deutsche Bahn, whose representatives labeled such behavior as "irresponsible and selfish."

According to a statement from GDL, the strike will continue from 10 pm on Thursday, 7 December, until 10 pm on Friday, 8 December, once again adversely affecting rail operations in Germany. DB Human Resources Director Martin Seiler expressed indignation at GDL's actions on the eve of the Christmas winter celebrations, commenting, "The train drivers' union is spoiling the second weekend of Advent for millions of uninvolved people. A strike so soon after the onset of winter and so shortly before the timetable change is irresponsible and selfish.”

The current disputes center around financial compensation and working conditions, exacerbated by failed negotiation attempts between DB and GDL. The train drivers' union has presented 35 demands, including a reduction in working hours to 35 hours per week for shift workers (currently 38 hours) and an increase in wages by 555 euros per month, as well as a one-time compensation for inflation of 3000 euros. This would increase DB's staff costs by 50 percent. Consequently, the company did not agree to the proposed terms, instead offering an 11-fold wage increase, subject to a 32-month collective agreement. GDL, however, rejected this offer.

Der Eisenbahner / Public domain

"Instead of negotiating and facing reality, the train drivers' union is striking for demands that cannot be met. This is absolutely unnecessary! There is so much to do: finally clarify the Christmas question, consider our 11 percent offer, and work on solutions for employees and customers," said Martin Seiler. He added that Deutsche Bahn is ready to resume negotiations at any time and place.