07 November 2014

[071114.EN.LOG] German Train Drivers Strike Over Pay And Right to Represent Stewards

GERMAN train drivers went on strike this week against state-owned Deutsche Bahn which prompted an intervention from Chancellor Angela Merkel who called for a mediator, Reuters reports.

They plan to continue the strike over weekend, making it the longest strike in the post-war history of the German railway.

Deutsche Bahn's forwarding unit DB Schenker has warned of "significant disruption to freight services".

A spokesman for DB Schenker told Lloyd's Loading List that initial estimates of the strike’s impact pointed to the company’s freight train schedules being reduced by half.

“For our customers in Germany and abroad, that means delays and restrictions on their shipments,?he said.

Europe’s biggest rail freight company operates close to 5,000 trains daily and last year moved 390 million tonnes of freight.

Sixty per cent of DB Schenker Rail's transport services are pan-European but has launched an eastbound service between Hamburg and Zhengzhou.

Deutsche Bahn urged the GDL train drivers' union, with its 20,000 members, to accept mediation talks and abandon the strike over power and pay. But the union, leading its sixth strike in two months, rejected mediation.

The union is demanding the right to negotiate for 17,000 train stewards. It also seeks a five per cent pay increase for drivers and a shorter working week of 37 hours, down from 39.

Mrs Merkel, who rarely comments on industrial disputes, urged the train drivers to act with restraint. ¡§I can only appeal to their sense of responsibility to find solutions which do the least possible damage to us as a country," she told reporters.

A rail strike of more than three days could cost the economy up to EUR100 million (US$126 million) a day, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.

Source : HKSG.

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