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Friday, April 19, 2024

Transport Strike Paralyses Germany over Wage Row

At the stroke of midnight on Monday, a nationwide warning strike organized by several trade unions officially began in Germany over Pay disputes.

Public sector strikes focused mainly on public transport will halt the vast majority of buses, trains and planes in Germany on Monday. The 24-hour action began at midnight; it’s part of a long-running pay dispute.

Preparations for the strike have already caused major weekend travel disruption.

Almost all planes, trains and buses were likely to be down on Monday, which had a major impact on local public transport in several large German states as well.

As a result, increased traffic and delays on the road network were also expected on Monday.

The union is deadlocked in negotiations with public sector employers in several transport sectors – including rail, local public transport and airport ground staff – and has called for strike action as the third round of talks opens.

Almost all flights canceled or delayed by one day, Berlin BER spared

The strike affected all major German international airports except BER Berlin Brandenburg Airport. In total, around 400,000 passengers across the country were thought to face delays or cancellations.

At the largest hub, Frankfurt, all arrivals and departures were canceled for the whole of Monday, or marked as delayed by a full day for some long-haul flights.

Meanwhile, Munich International Airport already stopped flights on Sunday in anticipation of the strike and its consequences. All passenger flights were also out of service on Monday.

Berlin’s BER airport was the only one not affected by the strike. Its online arrivals and departures board looked relatively normal early Monday morning – except for all scheduled domestic flights from elsewhere in Germany, which were disrupted.

The strikes will also halt commercial and passenger shipping at several major ports and harbors.

Long-distance and regional trains and local public transport are affected

The German railway network is similarly paralyzed.

Last week, national rail operator Deutsche Bahn took the unusual step of canceling all long-distance rail services in the country scheduled for Monday.

Deutsche Bahn often tries to prioritize these services, some of which also cross international borders. Comparable past strikes in Germany had a more pronounced impact on local services.

Regional rail services would also be massively curtailed to the extent that it would not even be possible to run an emergency timetable similar to public holidays, Deutsche Bahn said.

And in seven German states – Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony and Bavaria – strikes would also halt local public transport such as buses, trams or the metro.

As a result, traffic on the road network was also expected to be problematic, given that most commuters would have a choice between car and bike.

The third round of negotiations begins, the two camps are far apart
Germany’s main umbrella union Verdi, the country’s second largest by membership, and EVG – a trade union for specialists in the rail and transport sector – called on members to coordinate nationwide.

Both unions are expecting negotiations with public sector employers this week.

In the case of Verdi, a new round of negotiations begins on Monday in Potsdam alongside the German Federation of State Administration (DBB) with representatives of the federal government and municipalities.

“With a strike day in the transport sector, it should once again be unmistakably clear to employers that employees are fully behind our demands,” said Verdi’s Frank Werneke.

Asked about accusations by some politicians that the scale and scope of the strikes were counterproductive and could prove to be a “burden” on negotiations, Werneke said: “What workers directly from the middle income groups see as a burden are primarily the enormous increase in electricity prices, gas and food.”

Meanwhile, EVG is due to start negotiations with various railway companies in the middle of the week.

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