German Train Drivers Want to Strike Beginning Jan. 7

Biggest strike in company history took place last month when drivers went on strike for three days.

Germany's GDL train drivers' union on Dec. 20 formally broke off wage talks with state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn and said it wants to launch fresh strikes on January 7. A spokeswoman for GDL said the strikes would be indefinite and affect both commuter and freight services.

GDL and Deutsche Bahn resumed talks this month and signaled that they were in sight of a compromise to an end a four-month standoff, but this failed to materialize and on Dec. 20 the union declared the talks a failure.

At the heart of the dispute is a demand by GDL for a separate contract from other railworkers, allowing it to negotiate work conditions and wages independently. GDL boss Manfred Schell said the rail operator had rejected this demand. The union has also demanded wage increases of up to 31%.

In mid-November, more than 5,300 train drivers walked off the job for three days, paralyzing traffic on passenger and freight services in Europe's biggest economy. Deutsche Bahn called it the biggest strike in the company's history.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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