Union warns of new train drivers’ strike

The train drivers' union GDL has warned that their new wage conflict with operator Deutsche Bahn could escalate into a large-scale industrial dispute similar to the one that caused massive disruption three years ago.

Union warns of new train drivers' strike
Photo: DPA

GDL deputy chairman Norbert Quitter told Saturday’s edition of Bild, “We don’t want a conflict like in 2007/08, but we’re not going to let Deutsche Bahn make fools of us.”

Train drivers need protection, he said. “If the Bahn doesn’t make us a reasonable offer, we will defend ourselves – and we can do that for a long time,” he added. “The Bahn should not try to play the same game as in 2007/08.”

The last wage conflict between Deutsche Bahn and GDL lasted several months and led to strikes and disruption throughout Germany.

Rail passenger protection group Pro Bahn commented that a new strike could severely affect rail passengers. Spokesman Hartmut Buyken said, “We’re worried that there could be even worse chaos than in 2007/08. A new industrial dispute could turn many passengers away for good.”

The GDL is demanding that Germany’s 26,000 train drivers receive a unified pay level, as well as a five percent rise and better protection against redundancy.

The GDL is already planning warning strikes, though it is not yet been decided where or when. Deutsche Bahn described the warnings as “completely exaggerated and inappropriate,” and called for more negotiations.

DB’s personnel director Ulrich Weber said there had been good progress in the ten meetings that had so far taken place. GDL said these negotiations had failed.


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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.