Deutsche Bahn has criticised the new rail strikes announced today by the head of GDL, the German train drivers' union, saying that they will place a "completely unnecessary burden" on its passengers and freight transport customers. GDL announced earlier today that it plans to strike again in freight transport starting tomorrow, and in passenger transport starting on 23 August.
"This second strike during the summer holidays shows that the union has no interest in resolving the labour dispute," said Martin Seiler, DB Board Member for HR. "Instead of having the courage to return to the negotiating table, GDL management is striking to gain more membership and influence. This is taking things too far; rail customers will suffer as a result." Seiler said that GDL was not interested in finding solutions. Instead, the union was seeking to recruit new members in areas at DB where its membership was currently very low.
DB said it regretted the potential service restrictions the strike would cause in freight and passenger transport. The company plans once again to do everything in its power to minimise the strike's impact, but customers should be prepared for restrictions to service. As before, DB will offer passengers flexible options, with details to follow.
Seiler said he was more confident than ever before that an agreement could be reached on GDL's substantive demands. It had become clear that GDL was constantly contradicting itself. "GDL management is full of contradictions," said Seiler. "There is now a law in Germany that requires companies whose employees are represented by multiple unions to apply the collective bargaining agreement of the union with the most members. First GDL sued to stop DB from applying this law. It lost that case. Then GDL turned around and said it wanted to apply the law – at all rail operating companies."
DB expanded its offer to GDL on 7 June. The company is now offering a pay rise equal to the 3.2% demanded by GDL, in two stages: 1.5% from 1 January 2022 and 1.7% from 1 March 2023. The collective bargaining agreement would run until 30 June 2024. DB needs a somewhat longer term for the agreement to give the company time to deal with losses caused by the pandemic. This would be similar to the agreement reached for public servants at German airports. DB has also offered additional job protection, thousands of new hires and an industry-leading pension scheme.