Trains across Germany will halt Tuesday as train drivers’ union GDL is enforcing its demands against national railway operator Deutsche Bahn in another 24-hour long walkout.

Trains across Germany will halt Tuesday as train drivers’ union GDL is enforcing its demands against national railway operator Deutsche Bahn in another 24-hour long walkout. (Deutsche Bahn)

Updated March 12, 2024 at 3:15 p.m. Central European Time

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The strike by the German train drivers’ union GDL is continuing as planned after Deutsche Bahn’s attempt to halt it through court action failed at both the initial and appeal stages Tuesday.

The national railway operator filed for an injunction at the Frankfurt labor court Monday, the company said in a statement, criticizing the union’s abrupt timing and arguing that the strike, affecting both freight and passenger services, is “groundless” and “disproportionate.”

The Hessian State Labor Court has dismissed the company’s appeal against the earlier ruling in Frankfurt, confirming the legality of the union’s short-notice strike.

GDL will continue its 24-hour strike until 2 a.m. Wednesday, the union said, an action that comes shortly after they concluded a 35-hour strike Friday.

Deutsche Bahn said it would maintain basic service across its long-distance, regional and S-Bahn trains. The company on its website advised passengers to book seats in advance due to expected limitations.

Tickets affected by the strike will remain valid and passengers will have the option to travel at other times without being bound to specific trains, Deutsche Bahn said. Additionally, seat reservations can be canceled for free and full refunds are available for canceled trains.

As threatened previously, union leaders announced the strike less than 48 hours in advance in order to prevent Deutsche Bahn from creating an emergency timetable. Fewer trains may roll Tuesday as a result, according to German automobile club ADAC.

Tuesday’s standoff between Deutsche Bahn and GDL marks the sixth work stoppage over wages and benefits, with each side blaming the other for the failure to reach an agreement that could avert further disruptions in Germany’s rail services.

“(Deutsche Bahn) shows once again that it has no interest in improving the working, income and living conditions of its employees, but simply wants to ‘win,’” GDL chief Claus Weselsky said in a Friday statement. “This is not what a collective bargaining and social partnership on equal footing looks like.”

Mediation talks in late February aimed to address the union’s demands for reduced working hours, salary increases and improvements in working conditions.

Key to the deadlock is GDL’s demand for a 35-hour workweek with full wage compensation.

The mediators’ suggestion to gradually reduce working hours to 36 per week by 2028 has been rejected by GDL, which also demands a larger pay bump than Deutsche Bahn offered.

Deutsche Bahn’s latest offer, in line with the mediators’ proposal, included a staggered salary increase topping out at an additional 331 euros per month by 2025. GDL’s initially demanded a retroactive 555 euro increase and is now standing firm at an immediate raise escalating to 420 euros per month.

The GDL declined an invitation for further negotiations scheduled by Deutsche Bahn for Monday, dismissing the latest offer as inadequate and demanding a better offer from the company by Sunday evening – an offer that had reportedly not been made.

With GDL rejecting the offer to negotiate based on the current proposal, the prospect of reaching a resolution remains uncertain, according to officials of both parties, potentially leading to further disruptions in the coming weeks.

author picture
Alexander reports on the U.S. military and local news in Europe for Stars and Stripes in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has 10 years experience as an Air Force photojournalist covering operations in Timor-Leste, Guam and the Middle East. He graduated from Penn State University and is a Defense Information School alumnus.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now