Train drivers’ strike to hit Wednesday, Thursday

Train drivers will return to the picket lines on Tuesday afternoon after negotiations with rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) collapsed on Friday. Passenger services will be hit on Wednesday and Thursday.

Train drivers' strike to hit Wednesday, Thursday
Train drivers' union (GDL) leader Claus Weselsky (l) on a picket line in March. Photo: DPA

Tuesday will see freight train drivers stop working at 3 pm in a walkout planned to last until 9 am on Friday.

Meanwhile, passenger services will be hit by the fresh round of strikes from 2 am on Wednesday until 9 pm on Thursday.

Train Drivers' Union (GDL) leader Claus Weselsky told the Passauer Neue Presse that drivers were striking for the first time since November because “the management apparently doesn't want to reach a result” in negotiations over pay, working hours and union representation.

The talks had failed to produce answers to the main questions in 16 rounds of meetings, he added, giving the example of setting limits on overtime.

SEE ALSO: What the train drivers' strike is all about

DB human resources head Ulrich Weber said that “the GDL could have had its hoped-for interim result on almost all points” before negotiations broke down last week.

The rail company's freight arm said the strike would seriously reduce its service, while the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry  (DIHK) called them a “poison for Germany as a location for business”.

DIHK chief economist Alexander Schumann pointed out that around a million tonnes of goods are transported by train every day in Germany, meaning that production delays can be expected after just a few days of strikes.

But Weselsky rejected the idea that mediation could prevent the walkout.

“DB demands that we be ready to make compromises. But they aren't ready to do the same. In these conditions we won't go into a mediation,” he said.

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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.