Biggest German Rail Strike is Having Large Economic Impact

Strike is costing $74 million per day.

German train drivers began a new strike on freight services on Nov. 14, scheduled to last 62 hours, which the national rail operator Deutsche Bahn said was the biggest in its history. The government said it feared the strike could have a dramatic impact on Europe's biggest economy and made an urgent appeal to the train drivers' GDL union and Deutsche Bahn to return to the negotiating table.The stoppage started on freight services at 1100 GMT, with passenger train drivers to join in from 0100 GMT on Nov. 15. Services are not expected to resume until 0100 GMT on Nov. 17.

Deutsche Bahn board member Norbert Bensel said the strike, "the biggest in our history," was costing the operator 50 million euros (US$73.4 million) a day.

The strike over the union's demands for a 31% pay rise represented a new peak in a dispute that has lasted three months.GDL said it believed its campaign of strikes -- the one starting Nov. 15 was the sixth national stoppage in the three-month dispute -- was starting to wear down Deutsche Bahn.But Bensel said Deutsche Bahn was standing firm in its refusal to grant the drivers either a pay rise above the 10% it has offered or a separate contract from other rail workers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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