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Germany prepares for new nationwide rail strike

Germany prepares for new nationwide rail strike

The German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) is once again calling for a nationwide rail strike. The last-minute labor action is scheduled to start at 10 p.m. local time on Thursday and last 24 hours.

The strike, the fourth this year, will have a “massive impact on the entire German rail service,” state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn said in a statement. “There will also be massive restrictions for industry and business in rail freight transport.”

GDL Chairman Claus Weselsky defended the decision to call for another warning strike after the previous action in mid-November. “It is the last one for this year,” he told public broadcaster MDR on Wednesday.

According to an MDR survey published after the first strike organized by GDL, 41 percent supported the labor action despite a positive attitude toward strike actions in wage disputes in general.

“The train drivers’ union is ruining the second Advent weekend for millions of people who are not involved,” Deutsche Bahn Board member Martin Seiler said. “A strike so soon after the onset of winter and so close to the timetable change is irresponsible and selfish.”

In the ongoing wage dispute, Deutsche Bahn is offering an 11 percent pay increase and an inflation compensation premium of up to 2,850 euros (3,081 U.S. dollars).

The union is demanding a reduction of weekly working hours from 38 to 35 with full pay compensation. On top of that, German train drivers want a one-year wage increase of 555 euros per month and an inflation bonus of 3,000 euros. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollars)

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