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German rail, air workers walk out in new strike round

Rail employees have been staging strikes for months to demand a pay rise
Rail employees have been staging strikes for months to demand a pay rise - Copyright AFP -
Rail employees have been staging strikes for months to demand a pay rise - Copyright AFP -

Hundreds of thousands of passengers in Germany faced travel misery Thursday as rail and airport workers stage new strikes to back demands for higher wages.

Germany has been troubled by strikes for months as workers and management wrestle over terms amid high inflation and weak business activity.

Industrial action has hit the transport sector, supermarkets and the civil service.

Rail workers began a 35-hour strike on freight services at 1700 GMT on Wednesday and on passenger services at 0100 GMT on Thursday morning.

The length of the strike is intended to underline a key ask of the GDL train drivers union to reduce the working week to 35 hours from 38.

Rail employees have been staging strikes for months to demand a pay rise to help members manage the higher cost of living in light of inflation.

A walkout by train drivers in January caused travel disruption for thousands of passengers over several days.

The more limited walk out was the beginning of a “wave of strikes”, GDL boss Claus Weselsky said this week.

Future action would be announced “when we think the time is right” and no longer 48 hours in advance as has been the case in the past, Weselsky said.

“Rail is no longer a reliable means of transport”, he said.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has condemned the walkout, saying it has made concessions amounting to a 13 percent pay increase.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa ground staff will hold a nationwide strike from 0300 GMT on Thursday through to 0610 GMT Saturday.

Security staff at Frankfurt and Hamburg airports also led a one-day walkout.

Frankfurt, Germany’s biggest aviation hub, would see “major disruptions and flight cancellations throughout the day”, the airport said in a statement.

The airport would be closed to all outbound passengers, it said.  

The Lufthansa strike is expected to cause further disruption to the airline’s services at other airports. 

A previous one-day strike affected some 100,000 passengers, with between 80 and 90 percent of flights grounded.

Workers’ representatives and management have blamed each other for the travel disruption. 

The Verdi union is seeking pay rises of 12.5 percent for workers, a minimum of 500 euros ($542) more a month.

Lufthansa has offered pay increases over an extended period but not enough to meet Verdi’s demands, the union has said.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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