Germany seeks to avoid repeat of 2007 rail strike

16 July 2010 19:03  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s train drivers union GDL will seek to avoid a strike, it said on Friday after a first round of wage bargaining with rail carrier Deutsche Bahn ended without results.

A 2007 train drivers strike disrupted chemical railcar shipments in Europe’s largest economy.

The country’s 20,000 train drivers will be in a legal strike position after 31 July.

GDL head Claus Weselsky said he expected protracted talks, but added the union was not “bent on a strike”.

At stake was a 5% wage increase, according to the union.

Also, GDL was seeking a framework deal that covered all train drivers within Deutsche Bahn, including affiliates and subsidiaries, it said.

The union said that the railway carrier had already formed 17 separate limited liability affiliates and planned to form an additional 13. Said Weselsky: “Any deal must be applied throughout [Deutsche Bahn] group, without exception.”

The negotiations are expected to resume on 29 July.

In related news, German employers, including chemical employers, have voiced concern that the country could soon face more industrial disputes after the federal labour court said it would no longer abide by a principle - “Tarifeinheit” - that provides that there is only one collective agreement per plant.

The court’s ruling opened the door to separate collective agreements for various groups of workers - such as train drivers, air traffic controllers or doctors - within one plant or facility, they said. This raised fears that collective bargaining could become “balkanised”, with Germany facing endless strikes, they said.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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