German Rail Union Sticks to Its Guns in Wage Showdown

Sticking to a demand for a 31% wage increase

German train drivers' union GDL on Aug. 29 said it was sticking to a demand for a 31% wage increase in a bitter standoff with rail operator Deutsche Bahn which has triggered strikes. "Our list of demands today is more or less the same as the one we presented in March," the union said.

GDL on Aug. 28 agreed to return to the negotiating table to resolve the wage dispute that had threatened to bring rail traffic to a standstill across Germany this summer. The union's main demand is that the entry-level salary for train drivers be raised to 2,500 euros (US$3,411) a month from the current 2,000 euros and that their end-of-career salary be increased from 2,100 to 3,000 euros. It also wants the working week shortened.

GDL and two other rail workers' unions, Transnet and GDBA, on Aug. 28 agreed that they would not launch fresh labor action before a deadline for the new talks to deliver a deal expires at the end of September.

Deutsche Bahn was hit by a series of strikes this year, but in July struck an agreement with Transnet and GDBA under which employees will receive a 4.5% pay rise spread over 19 months from January 2008 as well as a bonus of 600 euros. GDL however rejected the terms of that deal and has held brief but disruptive warning strikes this summer in support of its demands.

In early August, Deutsche Bahn secured a court ruling preventing the union from launching a nationwide strike until September 30.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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