Deutsche Bahn seeks emergency court injunction against rail strikes

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said Thursday it will take legal action to end strikes as train drivers began five days of walkouts on passenger services in an ongoing pay dispute.

Deutsche Bahn seeks emergency court injunction against rail strikes
Commuters in Munich on Thursday. Photo: dpa | Peter Kneffel

The ongoing strike action was not within “the relevant legal framework”, said Martin Seiler, personnel director for Deutsche Bahn.

“Therefore we must act in the interest of our customers and employees and allow the strike to be legally reviewed,” he said.

The Frankfurt am Main labour court will rule on the urgent application this evening, it confirmed on Thursday. The hearing on the interim injunction is scheduled to begin at 6 pm.

The latest walkout is the third strike in a month on German rail, and the longest yet, with the action set to last until the early hours of Tuesday morning next week.

Deutsche Bahn published the terms of a new offer to train drivers on Wednesday evening, as the strike began on cargo services, but it was rejected by the unions.

The rail company had proposed bringing forward a 3.2 percent increase in drivers’ salaries and agreed to coronavirus-related bonuses of up to 600 euros – a demand made by the union.

“We have now presented the third improved offer – without the GDL seriously entering into negotiations with us,” said Seiler.

“No person and no union on this planet could accept this offer,” Claus Weselsky, head of the GDL union, told German public television.

“The bad news for passengers — the strike continues,” he said.

As in previous strikes, around a quarter of normal long-distance services will run, while about four in ten regional and urban commuter trains will be operating as normal.

The strike action began on August 10 after union members voted 95 percent in favour, following the collapse of pay talks with Deutsche Bahn.

The last major conflict between unions and Deutsche Bahn took place in 2014-2015, when over nine months GDL organised nine rounds of strikes to demand regulatory reforms.

READ MORE: Here’s how to navigate the Deutsche Bahn train strikes in your region of Germany 

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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.