Train passengers now have to take a deep breath because it’s starting again. For the fourth time this year, the train drivers’ union GDL has called on its members to stop work – in keeping with the snow chaos and the run-up to Christmas. The strike at Deutsche Bahn (DB) in passenger transport is scheduled to begin this Thursday evening at 10 p.m. and end this Friday evening at 10 p.m. Impairments are expected before the warning strike begins, as well as afterwards. According to its own statements, Deutsche Bahn is expecting “massive effects” for passengers during the strike. The company announced that it would inform customers as quickly and comprehensively as possible. During the strike, an emergency timetable with greatly reduced services will apply.

The employees of Deutsche Bahn, including the S-Bahn operations in Berlin and Hamburg as well as the railway companies Transdev, AKN and City-Bahn Chemnitz as well as other companies, have been called on a warning strike. According to the announcement, the strike in freight transport is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday evening. The strike on a busy Friday thwarted the plans of thousands of passengers. You can postpone your trip planned for this Thursday or Friday and use your ticket at another time. The train connection has been lifted, the railway announced. Reservations can be canceled free of charge.

The German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) wants to use the campaign to increase the pressure in the current collective bargaining round. Among other things, she wants to emphasize the demand for a reduction in working hours for shift workers. “The employers are stonewalling everywhere and are not prepared to give the employees the appreciation and recognition they deserve for the work they have done,” criticized the union.

At least on one point, passengers can breathe a sigh of relief: there should be no further warning strikes until January 7th, and the busy holidays will be spared from labor disputes. “We will now carry out this strike action on Thursday and Friday, and it will be the last one for this year,” said GDL boss Weselsky on Wednesday evening on MDR-aktuell. “The ballot and counting will then take place on December 19th. And there will be no more industrial action, not even in the first week of January.”

The timing of the warning strike announcement on Wednesday evening was met with displeasure by the Pro Bahn passenger association. “What we criticize is the short notice. We would like it to be announced two days in advance when the strike will take place so that passengers can prepare for it,” said Federal Chairman Detlef Neuß. Protests by the strikers are planned in Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich. GDL members also want to campaign for their demands in Postdam, at the venue of the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations for the federal states’ public services. The same applies to the railways as to the public service, said Ulrich Silberbach, chairman of the German Civil Service Association. “If you want to attract and retain qualified specialists, you have to offer attractive and competitive working conditions.”

Deutsche Bahn criticized the GDL for ruining the second weekend of Advent for millions of uninvolved people. A strike so soon after the onset of winter and so shortly before the timetable change was irresponsible and selfish, rail personnel director Martin Seiler criticized. “Instead of negotiating and facing reality, the train drivers’ union is striking for demands that cannot be met. This is absolutely unnecessary.”

The train drivers’ union GDL is calling for weekly working hours to be reduced from the current 38 hours to 35 hours with full wage compensation. The railway rejected this as not feasible given the shortage of skilled workers. “In doing so, companies not only ignore the legitimate needs of their own employees,” explained GDL boss Weselsky. “They also torpedo the urgently needed measures for successful personnel recruitment.”

The union is also demanding 555 euros more wages and a 3,000 euros inflation bonus for a one-year term. The railway has so far made an offer that provides for eleven percent more wages and an inflation bonus of up to 2,850 euros – stretched over a term of 32 months. At the same time, GDL members are currently voting on more frequent and longer industrial disputes. According to GDL boss Weselsky, the counting should take place before Christmas.

The GDL last called for a warning strike at the railway on November 15th and 16th. In March and April, the larger railway and transport union (EVG) called for warning strikes lasting one day each. In the unusually tough collective bargaining round for train drivers, a strike vote on indefinite strikes is already underway.