The train drivers’ strike by the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) at Deutsche Bahn has started. The strike began in the evening at 6 p.m. in freight traffic, and at 2 a.m. the GDL then extended it to passenger traffic. The railway confirmed this early in the morning. The industrial action is expected to last until Monday evening at 6 p.m. Passengers will have to come to terms with significant restrictions on long-distance and regional transport in the next few days.

As with the previous strikes, the railway has set up a shortened timetable with a greatly reduced offer. Customers can find out which trains are running via the railway website or their app. The group has also set up a free information number that can be used to provide individual information about the timetable.

Anyone who has previously purchased a ticket for the strike period can postpone their journey to a later date. The railway has canceled the train connections. Seat reservations can be canceled free of charge.

It is the union’s fourth and longest strike to date. For the first time in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute, it also covers a complete weekend.

Weselsky makes allegations

GDL boss Weselsky criticized the railway: “What Deutsche Bahn AG is doing is nothing other than the repeated rejection of all demands,” said GDL boss Claus Weselsky on Wednesday in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”. The train only moves millimeters. When asked when the union would negotiate again, the trade unionist said: “As soon as Deutsche Bahn comes down from its high horse.”

Weselsky defended the fourth and longest strike in this round of collective bargaining. “It’s proportionate, it’s lawful, and it’s permissible – three elements that the courts have considered.” It cannot be avoided that a strike would affect customers in passenger and freight transport. “We have to strike longer and harder because the railway management is resistant to advice.”

Situation in the collective bargaining dispute

The situation in the collective bargaining dispute is messed up. There have been no negotiations between the GDL and the railway since the end of November. The union under its boss Weselsky also saw no basis for discussion in the railway’s most recent offer. In December, the GDL had its members vote on indefinite strikes. Around 97 percent of the participating employees were in favor of this. Since then, strikes lasting several days have been possible.

In addition to financial demands, the collective bargaining dispute primarily revolves around the issue of reducing weekly working hours for shift workers. The GDL wants to reduce this from 38 to 35 hours while keeping the salary the same. Among other things, the railway has offered an option model that provides for a one-hour reduction without financial losses. Anyone who decides against this will instead receive 2.7 percent more money. Weselsky sees the offer as no basis for further negotiations.

The collective bargaining conflict is complicated by the fact that the GDL wants to expand its influence in the company and also conclude collective agreements for employees in the infrastructure division. There are already collective agreements there from the larger railway and transport union (EVG), with which the GDL competes. The railway has so far rejected this request.