F.The next few weeks could be difficult for rail customers: The Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) is pushing ahead with its strike plans. The ballot in which the members decide on the labor dispute ends on this Monday. GDL boss Claus Weselsky wants to present the result on Tuesday. He expects an agreement of more than 90 percent. It is still unclear when the strike could take place. Deutsche Bahn again called on the union to negotiate again. Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) warned the parties to the collective bargaining to be prudent.
“Nobody really needs this strike now,” said the head of personnel at the state-owned railway company, Martin Seiler. “Ultimately, this is an attack on the whole country.” After the corona restrictions, many people are only now starting to travel again. The “Bild am Sonntag” said Seiler, “in terms of content, there is zero point zero reason to strike. Scheuer told the “Welt am Sonntag”, “Right now we need to be together”. The Corona time hit the railway hard.
However, the collective bargaining round between the railway and the union is stuck. Both sides accuse each other of spreading untruths and having no interest in negotiations.
It would be the first strike at the railways since December 2018, when the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) called on its members to take part in a labor dispute. The GDL strike was much harder in 2014 and 2015. The train drivers carried out their strikes in eight increasing waves.
Bahn wants to orient itself on the “emergency collective agreement” of the airports
Among other things, the GDL is calling for wage increases such as those in the public sector of around 3.2 percent and a significant corona bonus in the current year.
Because of the pandemic, however, the railway wants to orient itself towards the “emergency collective bargaining agreement” of the airports, which would spread a similar increase of 3.2 percent over a longer period and later stages, with a contract term of 40 months. In addition, there would be benefits for old-age provision and the exclusion of redundancies for operational reasons.
The rival union EVG had already signed a collective agreement with the railway last autumn. This year there was a zero round, at the beginning of 2022 employees will receive 1.5 percent more money. Terminations for operational reasons are excluded.
GDL boss Weselsky expects a clear vote in favor of a strike. He went from an approval of the labor dispute “above 90 percent”, he told the “Welt am Sonntag”. When asked about the possible duration of a strike by the train driver, Weselsky replied: “I am not aware of any limitation on how long a strike could last.”
In the 2014 strike vote, 91 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the labor dispute. According to the union’s statutes, the votes of “75 percent of the employees entitled to vote participating in the strike vote” are required. At that time, however, there was also the legal opinion that the approval rate had to be calculated based on the total number of members at the railway.
The union does not disclose how many of the 37,000 GDL members are in the service of Deutsche Bahn. According to its own information, it represents a good 80 percent of the train drivers and 40 percent of the train attendants. It is also trying to establish a larger base with dispatchers, train stations and railway workshops. In doing so, it rivals the EVG.