Drivers of trains from Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany's rail network, began a three-day national strike yesterday which, in addition to paralyzing rail traffic, has added to the tension caused by the farmers' protest campaign. Yesterday, train stations appeared empty and with minimal service – only one in five railway lines was operating – whether long-distance, regional or local. This is the third strike campaign launched by the GDL mechanics union, which represents about 10,000 members, and which stopped for several days last December and November.
The GDL management considers the employer's latest offer a “provocation” and has turned the demand to reduce the working day to 35 hours per week, without reducing salaries, compared to the current 38 hours, into a battle horse. This is the main demand of media union leader Klaus Weselski, who received the support of 97% of the members consulted for his call. It's a collective minority within DB's 221,000-strong workforce in Germany, but it underscores the power position of train drivers.
The German camp began its mobilization last December, after the government of Olaf Schulz announced the reduction of subsidies on agricultural diesel. It is one of the measures decided by the tripartite party at the end of 2023 between the Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals. n
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