Shortly after the end of the first warning strike in the collective bargaining dispute with Deutsche Bahn, the GDL union called on its members to vote. The union announced in the evening that they should decide on indefinite strikes at the railways and other transport companies. “We expect our members to give a clear answer to the employers’ stalling tactics,” said GDL boss Claus Weselsky, according to the statement.

For longer and more frequent industrial action, 75 percent of members would have to be in favor. The GDL would like to provide separate information about the time and result of the count. “Further warning strikes cannot be ruled out until then.”

Rail rivals also affected

The railway did not initially comment on the train drivers’ union’s announcement. In addition to the federally owned group, the GDL is negotiating with a number of other companies, including rail competitor Transdev. The union also accused this company of stalling tactics.

This week, the GDL called for the first warning strike at the railway in the ongoing tariff dispute. From Wednesday to Thursday evening, large parts of long-distance, regional and freight transport were at a standstill. Weselsky had repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to go for a strike vote early in the debate. According to his own statements, he primarily wants to avoid the railway going to the labor court against warning strikes.

No strike vote is necessary for warning strikes. There are stricter requirements regarding duration and frequency. If two-thirds of the union members agree to the strike vote, Weselsky would have free rein for longer and more frequent labor disputes.

Next hearing next week

It remains to be seen what will happen next at the negotiating table. The start of collective bargaining at the group ended last week without any substantive results. Negotiations should continue this week. After the GDL called for a warning strike, the railway canceled the talks. Human resources director Martin Seiler argued that negotiations and strikes cannot be carried out at the same time.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week. The railway had already announced that it wanted to keep the deadline as long as the GDL did not call for industrial action again on the respective days.

The union is demanding, among other things, 555 euros more per month and an inflation compensation bonus. The crux of the negotiations, however, is the demand for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week for shift workers with full pay. From Weselsky’s point of view, this is the only way to improve the attractiveness of these professions.

The railway rejects this demand as unfulfillable. It offers an eleven percent wage increase over a term of 32 months and the inflation premium required by the GDL. After the first round of negotiations and the first industrial dispute, both sides are far from reaching an agreement.