Union boss warns of summer railway strikes

Union boss warns of summer railway strikes
Photo: DPA
Ahead of wage negotiations in Frankfurt starting Monday, the head of the railworkers’ union cautioned that warning strikes could occur in August, potentially disrupting train travel at the height of the summer holiday season.

Transnet chairman Alexander Kirchner told German daily Die Welt on Saturday that his union was not looking to inconvenience travellers, but that passengers “should brace themselves for a hot summer on the railway.”

The strikes would affect Deutsche Bahn and potentially some 38 other private railway companies.

Deutsche Bahn and labour unions Transnet and GDBA are scheduled to attend a first meeting on Monday.

“By month’s end, we want to have key points for the branch-wide wage agreement and a concrete road map of how we get there,” Kirchner said. “Otherwise, we’ll be stepping up the pressure as of August 1,” with warning strikes possible.

If necessary, Kirchner said the union could push for comprehensive strikes. “That means we integrate both Deutsche Bahn and private railway companies into the labour dispute,” he said.

According to Die Welt’s report, Transnet and GDBA, along with train drivers’ union GDL, will conduct negotiations independently of one another. GDL head Claus Weselsky ruled out cooperation with the two other unions.

“What for? We’re pursuing other goals,” he told the paper.

The last large-scale negotiations involving Deutsche Bahn in 2007 and 2008 were marked by months of strike actions. In the current round of bargaining, the unions are demanding higher wages and calling for the same wage contract for railway workers around Germany in a bid to prevent major pay discrepancies between companies.

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