Status: 29.11.2023, 15:16 PM
By: Amy Walker, Lisa Mayerhofer
One warning strike has already passed, the next one is likely to come soon: The train drivers' union GDL has declared the collective bargaining negotiations with Deutsche Bahn to have failed.
- Wage dispute: On Friday, negotiations between the GDL trade union and Deutsche Bahn took place again. However, the GDL has now declared this to be a failure.
- The trains will soon come to a standstill again: Next warning strike of the GDL announced.
- Deutsche Bahn board: GDL has rejected three-week Christmas truce
Update from November 28, 12:51 p.m.: The Railway and Transport Union (EVG) and Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) are campaigning against violence and for more respect for railway staff. "Verbal assaults have increased fivefold in recent years, bodily injuries have tripled," said EVG boss Martin Burkert on Tuesday in Fulda at the presentation of the campaign "More respect on the rails". The Corona pandemic and the introduction of the Deutschlandticket have contributed to the increase in cases.
In the context of the recent wage dispute between Deutsche Bahn and GDL, the treatment of staff also plays a role. For example, a GDL member and train driver complained in an open letter that the staff is always exposed to the frustration of customers when the train is late or there are problems on the line. "But as an employee of DB Group, you don't have to hope for appreciation, because all achievements, all commitment, every personal initiative are rewarded with the payment of the salary," the letter said.
Update from November 28, 11:20 a.m.: It is still unclear when the GDL will go on strike. During the last warning strike on 15 and 16 November, only a few days passed between the announcement of the strike and the work stoppage. Deutsche Bahn responded with an emergency timetable. This allowed only a few trains to roll over the tracks. In many places, rail traffic was completely cancelled during the period of the warning strike. If the wage dispute drags on into December, Deutsche Bahn has already drawn up an emergency timetable for the period around Christmas.
GDL strike: Criticism of union and Weselsky grows
Update from November 28, 9:20 a.m.: Even on Tuesday morning, details of further strikes, such as the date and duration, have not yet been determined. The German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) had declared negotiations with Deutsche Bahn to have failed last Friday and announced warning strikes.
The GDL demands, among other things, a weekly working time of 35 instead of 38 hours for shift workers. "Every practitioner who is in the collective bargaining business and who has grown up in the railway system knows that this reduction can never happen all at once, but in steps with a time delay," said GDL boss Weselsky in an interview with The Pioneer magazine. The strike is taking place because Deutsche Bahn refuses to negotiate on this and other points.
While it is still unclear when the GDL will call for a strike at the railways, other groups are using it to draw attention to their cause. Already on Sunday, the Railway Action Committee announced under the title "No trust in the union leadership! Join the Railway Action Committee" in which the GDL's demands were described as "the absolute minimum". The next steps are to be discussed this week.
Rail strike: Details on date and duration are a long time coming. © Peter Kneffel/dpa
Cuts for pensioners: After budget freeze, "savings on pensions are possible"read more
GDL strike: Deutsche Bahn prepares emergency timetable read out
Relief planned for pensioners: One cohort benefits from traffic light plans in particularread more
Gastronomy industry in a state of emergency: Many businesses have to shorten opening hoursread
Cuts for pensioners: pensions are "not set in stone"read more
Explosive arms deal: Ukraine delivers attack helicopters to "Russia's close friends"read more
Rail strike: After the breakdown of collective bargaining, no strike date has yet been set
Update from November 27, 15:52 p.m.: GDL leader Claus Weselsky has said in an interview with The Pioneer magazine that he wants to leave open the date for further strikes before or after Christmas. "I just don't let [DB Board Member for Human Resources Martin Seiler] dictate to me when the Christmas truce begins and until when it has to run. That's not his profession, it's up to us," Weselsky said.
Previously, the union had rejected an offer from Deutsche Bahn for Christmas truce. According to this, there would have been no strikes in the period between December 15 and January 7, 2024 - in return, the train drivers would have received an inflation bonus of 2000 euros as early as December.
DB Board Member for Human Resources Martin Seiler. © Fabian Sommer/dpa
Update from November 27, 15:01 p.m.: Rail passengers are still waiting for information on the GDL's strike date. From the point of view of Deutsche Bahn, the union boss Weselsky wants to "put his head through the wall" with his demands, as DB Board Member for Human Resources Martin Seiler put it on Friday. Until Weselsky joined the negotiations last week, they had still spoken "objectively" with each other.
On the subject of Christmas truce - which the GDL has rejected, even though it said at the same time that it did not want to strike "over Christmas" - Seiler said: "The statements of the train drivers' union are worth nothing without a concrete date for those who are planning their Christmas trip. The vast majority of people drive before and after the holidays. We have called on the train drivers' union to show their true colours and not to stall the passengers any longer."
Update from November 27, 13:38 p.m.: The union has reacted with outrage to the statements of IG Metall boss Christiane Benner, who accused the GDL of an "unnecessary split". "For us, it's one company - one union. I'm not a fan of different unions making collective bargaining policy at the railways," the trade unionist had said a week ago in the Bild am Sonntag. The GDL is now reacting to this with an open letter from the federal chairman, Günther Kinscher: "You seem to have missed the fact that the first attempt to split the railway workers was made by your sister union EVG," it says.
"I would like to remind you that the IG Metall, the DGB, the employers' associations and the SPD have launched the Collective Bargaining Unity Act in an 'unholy alliance' and have thus contributed to the sharpness of the wage disputes," Kinscher continued.
GDL refuses to negotiate: Still no strike date
Update from November 27, 12:03 p.m.: In a new statement on Monday, the GDL once again pointed out that it does not want to continue negotiations with Deutsche Bahn until it agrees to its demands. "In view of this, further negotiations are pointless. The GDL will not allow our justified demands to be ignored in this round either. As in the past, we will fight for it in the future. The employers' side doesn't seem to understand this. Then we just have to prove it to them once again," it says on the GDL website. She still did not comment on a possible strike date.
Update from November 27, 08:10 a.m.: After the failure of the collective bargaining negotiations between the German Train Drivers' Union and Deutsche Bahn, it is still not clear when the next warning strike will be. So far, GDL boss Claus Weselsky has only announced that there must be a new warning strike.
Update from November 24, 14:05 p.m.: Deutsche Bahn has sharply criticised the decision of the train drivers' union GDL to declare the collective bargaining negotiations a failure after the second round of negotiations. Martin Seiler, Deutsche Bahn's Chief Human Resources Officer, said on Friday in Berlin that the GDL had rejected a three-week Christmas truce, i.e. a period without industrial action at Deutsche Bahn. "We have specifically proposed to the GDL that we have a Christmas truce between December 15 and January 7," Seiler said. However, the train drivers' union with its boss Claus Weselsky was not prepared to do so.
The GDL has declared the collective bargaining negotiations to have failed and is threatening new strikes. (Symbolic image) © Julian Stratenschulte/dpa
Weselsky himself had previously said nothing about a possible Christmas truce in his statement. A few days ago, he had only declared that the GDL would not go on strike over Christmas. So far, he has not said exactly what period he means by this.
The next warning strike is coming: collective bargaining has failed
Update from November 24, 12:07 p.m.: The next warning strike is coming: The German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL) has now declared the collective bargaining negotiations to have failed after the second round of talks with Deutsche Bahn. At the same time, it announced new warning strikes at Deutsche Bahn in Berlin on Friday.
There are currently no compromises to be found with the employers, said GDL boss Claus Weselsky in Berlin. He announced that the union would again strike rail transport. Initially, he did not give exact dates for possible warning strikes. The ballot among GDL members on indefinite strikes is still ongoing, the result is expected at the end of December. If 75 percent of the participants in the vote agree to indefinite industrial action, the GDL may also use this means of pressure in the collective bargaining dispute.
A train attendant walks to a parked train near the main station. The next warning strike is expected to follow soon. (Archive photo) © Bernd Wüstneck/dpa
Collective bargaining had only begun two weeks ago with the first round. A week ago, the GDL paralyzed large parts of train traffic nationwide with a 20-hour warning strike. As a result of the industrial action, a good 80 percent of the long-distance journeys actually planned were cancelled. In regional transport, the effects were even more pronounced in some federal states.
Warning strikes due to wage dispute at the railways: Mediation as a way out?
Since the beginning of the still young wage dispute, the GDL has been trying to keep the pressure on the railways as high as possible with many strike threats and the start of the ballot. Declaring the negotiations a failure after two weeks means the next level of escalation. After the first round of negotiations, Weselsky had presented it as a success that the union and Deutsche Bahn had been able to agree on a tight schedule and numerous further meetings until Christmas. These dates will not be needed for the foreseeable future.
One way out of the current situation could be conciliation, i.e. negotiations with one or more mediators. Deutsche Bahn had already proposed such a moderated approach before the start of the first round of negotiations, already in anticipation of a tough wage dispute with the GDL. At the time, Weselsky rejected the proposal in no uncertain terms. On Friday, he said that even now he sees "no room" for conciliation.
Collective bargaining negotiations between GDL and Deutsche Bahn continued on Friday
Update from November 24, 10:45 a.m.: The train drivers' union GDL and Deutsche Bahn continued their collective bargaining negotiations on Friday. This time, GDL boss Claus Weselsky, who had been absent most of the time from the talks on Thursday, was also present again. When he arrived at the venue in Berlin on Friday, he did not give an assessment of the current negotiation situation. DB Board Member for Human Resources Martin Seiler also did not comment.
The sticking point in the collective bargaining talks is the GDL's demand for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours a week for shift workers with full pay. Seiler, Deutsche Bahn's Chief Human Resources Officer, considers the demand to be unachievable and sees no room for manoeuvre at this point in view of the shortage of skilled workers.
The chairman of the German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL): Claus Weselsky. © Christoph Soeder/dpa
The signs now point to further escalation: "The next warning strike is sure to come. We won't take too much time with that," Weselsky told the Rheinische Post in advance. The union has already gone on strike once in the still young wage dispute, causing thousands of train cancellations a week ago. In addition, a ballot is underway among GDL members on indefinite strikes. The result is expected to be available by the end of December.
GDL and Deutsche Bahn: Collective bargaining to continue on Friday
Update from November 23, 20:35 p.m.: Collective bargaining between the train drivers' union GDL and Deutsche Bahn will continue on Friday from 10:00 a.m. This was announced by a railway spokesman on Thursday evening. "The collective bargaining negotiations between DB and GDL have ended for today," it said. After an eventful week with a 20-hour warning strike and a GDL ballot on indefinite strikes, the negotiators sat together in Berlin until about 18:30 p.m. – most of the time without GDL boss Claus Weselsky. He didn't join them until the evening.
Nothing was known about the course of the negotiations during the day. In the collective bargaining talks, the GDL demands, among other things, a reduction in the weekly working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours with full wage compensation. DB Board Member for Human Resources Seiler considers the demand to be unfulfillable and also sees no room for negotiation. Before the start of the negotiations, he stressed that he first wanted to talk about issues where compromises were possible.
GDL announces imminent warning strike
Update from November 23, 15:55 p.m.: Collective bargaining between the train drivers' union GDL and Deutsche Bahn is ongoing. From the late afternoon, union boss Claus Weselsky is also to join the GDL delegation, as a spokesman confirmed on Thursday. Weselsky was surprisingly absent from the start of the talks in Berlin in the morning.
The negotiations for the GDL were initially led by the deputy federal chairman, Lars Jedinat. "We simply have further negotiation dates elsewhere. We have other appointments, which we also keep as GDL," Jedinat said about Weselsky's absence.
The German Locomotive Drivers' Union (GDL) could strike again in the ongoing Taurf conflict with the railways. (Archive photo) © Bodo Marks/dpa
The GDL and Deutsche Bahn have been negotiating a collective agreement for two weeks. A week ago, the GDL went on strike nationwide for 20 hours. Around 80 percent of long-distance journeys and thousands of regional trains were cancelled. The signs continue to point to escalation: "The next warning strike is sure to come. We won't take too much time with that," Weselsky told the Rheinische Post in advance.
The union demands, among other things, 555 euros more per month as well as an inflation compensation bonus for a term of one year of the collective agreement. Deutsche Bahn had submitted an offer in the first round of negotiations, in which, among other things, it held out the prospect of an eleven percent wage increase over a period of 32 months. The crux of the matter, however, is the GDL's demand for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full pay. Martin Seiler, Deutsche Bahn's Chief Human Resources Officer, considers the demand to be unfulfillable and sees no room for negotiation.
Collective bargaining with the railways: GDL boss Claus Weselsky will come later
Update from November 23, 11:15 a.m.: The head of the train drivers' union GDL, Claus Weselsky, will not take part in the second round of collective bargaining negotiations with Deutsche Bahn on Thursday. Weselsky did not arrive at the venue in Berlin on Thursday morning. "We simply have further negotiation dates elsewhere, we have other appointments that we also attend as GDL," said GDL deputy federal chairman Lars Jedinat. On the spot, it was said that Weselsky would join the negotiations around Thursday afternoon or in the evening. GDL and DB are also scheduled for talks on Friday.
The GDL and Deutsche Bahn have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for two weeks. A week ago, the GDL went on strike for 20 hours nationwide, cancelling around 80 percent of long-distance journeys and thousands of regional trains.
GDL boss Claus Weselsky criticizes "rivets in pinstripes, with salaries in the millions" who have "no idea" how to organize a railway. © Christian Charisius/dpa
Ahead of collective bargaining: GDL announces imminent warning strike
First reported on 23 November, 10.00 a.m.: Last week, the train drivers' union GDL largely paralyzed rail traffic with a 20-hour warning strike. On Tuesday, GDL boss Claus Weselsky announced a kind of Christmas truce over the holidays – but what about the days immediately before and after? And what about next weekend, for example?
There is a great danger that the next warning strike on the railways will take place very soon. This Thursday, the second round of negotiations between the GDL and Deutsche Bahn on a new collective agreement begins. At the moment, however, there is little to suggest a constructive atmosphere. The fronts have hardened since the warning strike a week ago at the latest. Deutsche Bahn continues to show no willingness to talk about the reduction of working hours, which is particularly important to the GDL.
Collective bargaining at the railways: Will the next warning strike be announced on Thursday?
"The next warning strike is sure to come. We won't take too much time with that," Weselsky told the Rheinische Post. The much trickier question seems to be: How can Deutsche Bahn's negotiators prevent another industrial action at all? The GDL is calling for a reduction in the working week for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours, but Deutsche Bahn considers this demand to be unfeasible. If the GDL boss wants to talk only or first and foremost about this topic on Thursday, both sides are likely to present well-known positions. A quick end to the round of negotiations cannot then be ruled out.
Rail strikes: Will the GDL's next industrial action last indefinitely?
No, Weselsky doesn't have that option yet. The ballot in the GDL on indefinite strikes has started, but the result is not expected until around Christmas. If 75 percent of the voters agree to indefinite strikes, Weselsky can call one at any time.
Until then, the GDL boss must limit himself to temporary warning strikes. The duration of the walkout must also be proportionate to the demands or the current negotiation situation. In the event of a lack of proportionality, a labour court can prohibit a warning strike – as happened in the wage dispute between the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) and Deutsche Bahn in May.
If the GDL goes on strike, passengers will have to reckon with massive cancellations. (Archive photo) © picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt
Is the GDL allowed to strike during the ballot?
Yes, this is not a problem in principle, and the negotiations can also be continued despite the ballot. However, the atmosphere between the negotiators is likely to have deteriorated simply because of the announcement of the ballot, as well as by the 20-hour warning strike a week ago. The delegations are now scheduled for talks this Thursday and Friday.
Wage dispute at the railways: What about strikes on the Christmas days?
"The GDL has never gone on strike over Christmas and will not do so this year either. The Christmas season is a peaceful one - and it will remain so," Weselsky told the Leipziger Volkszeitung. But when does the Christmas season start for Weselsky, and when does it end? The majority of people who want to travel by train for Christmas will not be travelling on festive days in the foreseeable future. A strike on 22 December, the Friday before Christmas, would probably affect far more travellers than a walkout on 25 December. The same applies to travel after the holidays.
What does the GDL demand from Deutsche Bahn?
The GDL's core demand is the reduction of working hours for shift workers. According to Weselsky, he wants to make the profession of train driver more attractive again and ensure more appreciation. DB Board Member for Human Resources Martin Seiler argues that a reduction in working hours would mean that many people would have to be hired - also in view of the shortage of skilled workers, he does not think this is possible.
In addition, the union is demanding, among other things, 555 euros more per month as well as an inflation compensation bonus. In an initial offer, Deutsche Bahn has held out the prospect of eleven percent higher fees over a term of 32 months, plus an inflation compensation premium.
How many times has Deutsche Bahn been on strike this year?
For rail passengers, the current situation is also difficult because the fear of strikes already caused unrest during the collective bargaining round with the EVG in spring and summer. The EDC called for warning strikes three times, and twice they took place. The GDL's latest industrial action was therefore the third day of strikes on the railways in the current year. For the railways, such days mean high costs and annoyance for customers. However, the already poor punctuality rate is not further worsened by the work stoppages: train cancellations are not taken into account in the statistics. (lma/dpa)