Personal dispute to stop trains in Germany

Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 6:40 | Posted in Germany, railways, traffic | Leave a comment
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I wrote last month about chaos in German railways caused by industrial action. The trains were stopped in early July by two trade unions, Transnet and GDBA, demanding pay rises of seven percent for their members. As I noted back then, engine drivers represented by GDL were not participating in the bargaining because they wanted a separate wage agreement with a pay hike of up to 31 percent.

Today, a good month later, that conflict is exactly at the same point. A strike is very likely to kick off tomorrow. Oddly enough, Spiegel Online International suggests that the parties have made no progress in their negotiations to a large part because of a personal grudge between the two main actors, Deutsche Bahn chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn and GDL chairman Manfred Schell. Spiegel reports about exhange of less than polite statements between the gentlemen.

German engine drivers are worse paid than their colleagues elsewhere in Europe. According to Spiegel, there is public sympathy to the drivers in spite of the expected chaos right in the middle of the vacation season. As Mein Parteibuch puts it, it is bad for Germany’s reputation that the pay for a full time job is insufficient for providing a decent existence.

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