German train strike to hit 25th anniversary of Berlin Wall fall
FRANKFURT - Agence France-Presse
In this Oct. 18, 2014 file pictue a man and a woman sit on their suitcases as they wait on a platform in Munich during a strike of German train drivers. AP PhotoGerman train drivers began their longest strike in 20 years Nov. 5 in a bitter labor dispute that will mar travel for millions during 25th anniversary celebrations of the Berlin Wall’s fall.
The GDL train drivers’ union called the strike, the sixth walkout since September, starting with freight services on yesterday afternoon and spreading to passenger services today. The stoppage is scheduled to last until early next week, meaning it will hit the weekend celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, where as many as two million visitors were expected to travel to the German capital, many by train. In addition to the nationwide rail services, the strike will also affect the local suburban or S-Bahn train networks in Berlin and other major cities across the country.
The national railway operator Deutsche Bahn is hoping to maintain around one third of services, but has warned that major delays could be expected.
GDL has come under fierce criticism from all quarters for its industrial action, since it is only a small union with around 19,000 members, compared with a total Deutsche Bahn workforce of 196,000 in Germany and more than 300,000 worldwide. Deutsche Bahn management slammed the walkout as “pure bullying”.
“While people in Germany are looking forward to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall on November 9, GDL wants to paralyze public life in our country with the longest strike in the history of Deutsche Bahn,” the company’s head of personnel, Ulrich Weber, raged.
GDL has accused Deutsche Bahn of stonewalling in talks over workers’ demands for a five-percent wage hike and a shorter working week of 37 hours.