Europe

Germany’s train drivers to go on nationwide strike

Germany”s train drivers plan to go on a nationwide strike starting on Tuesday night, the head of the train driver’s union said after announcing that 95% of the union members had voted to back the move.

Travellers were warned to expect disruptions.

The head of the GDL union, Claus Weselsky, told reporters the strike would start with all cargo trains at 19h CEST on Tuesday. It will be expanded to include passengers trains from 2 am CEST on Wednesday until 2 am CEST on Friday, he added.

The union is demanding a 3.2% salary increase and a one-time “coronavirus bonus” of €600.

German train operator Deutsche Bahn has rejected the demands. The company has lost billions since the start of the pandemic and from recent floods that destroyed or damaged numerous railroad tracks.

Deutsche Bahn said only about a quarter of its long-distance trains will run on Wednesday and Thursday, with priority given to connections between Berlin and cities in the west, as well as between Hamburg and Frankfurt. The company urged passengers to refrain from unnecessary travel and said it would lift coronavirus-related restrictions to allow every seat to be booked.

Many German states are on summer vacation, and travellers are heavily relying on trains to get around. However, customers who have already bought tickets for the coming days when train travel will likely come to a standstill in Germany can request refunds.

The GDL union went on nationwide strikes eight times in 2014 and 2015 to push through its demands.

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