The GDL has called on Deutsche Bahn employees to go on strike again. The railway criticizes this: the union is exacerbating the conflict “excessively”.
Now things are getting tough for travelers in Germany. The train drivers' union GDL has called on Deutsche Bahn employees to go on strike again. This will begin in passenger transport early Wednesday morning at 2 a.m. and last until Monday next week at 6 p.m., the union announced that night. The union members at DB Cargo have been called on strike from Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Six days of strike could paralyze the country. The GDL had already carried out its first warning strikes in the past few weeks. In mid-January, the train drivers initially only went on strike for three days, but this industrial action also had a massive impact on local and long-distance transport in Germany. Thousands of connections were down. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bahn criticized the union's intransigent stance. They must show willingness to negotiate and take responsibility for the country.
Video | Weselsky: Further negotiations with the railway only without “preconditions”
GDL rejected the offer
The GDL and Deutsche Bahn have been in dispute over a new collective agreement since November. The GDL rejected an improved offer from the group just last week. A central demand in the current collective bargaining dispute is the 35-hour week for GDL shift workers – with full wage compensation.
The railway has so far not wanted to comply with this request. It only offered employees one hour less working time – from 38 to 37 hours – with full wage compensation. Alternatively, employees could have chosen a wage increase of 2.7 percent from 2026. DB Human Resources Director Martin Seiler offered a total of up to 13 percent more wages than before plus an inflation bonus, spread over 32 months.
Bahn appears ready to negotiate
The fact that the union is reacting to the improved offer with another strike has been sharply criticized by Deutsche Bahn. “Anyone who doesn't even come to the negotiating table with a new offer with up to 13 percent and the possibility of a 37-hour week with the same salary is acting absolutely irresponsibly,” said a railway spokesman. “The DB relies on compromises, the GDL is exaggerating the conflict.”
Railway personnel director Martin Seiler said on Monday that they had “reached out a hand” to the GDL. But the union responded with a six-day strike. Seiler spoke of “big concessions” to the GDL. “Everything is now on the table: an above-average salary agreement and a reduction in working hours with the same salary.” It is now necessary to “assume responsibility and finally negotiate again.” According to Seiler, this also involved compromises. “We are ready to negotiate at any time and any place.”
GDL: “No trace of willingness to unify”
The railway tried to stop the last strike with an injunction. In this case, it reacts differently, as a DB spokesman explained on Monday: “DB will not appeal against the six-day GDL strike. After legal review, there are currently no plans to obtain an interim injunction.”
For the GDL, the compromises do not go far enough. “With the third and supposedly improved offer, Deutsche Bahn AG has once again shown that it is undeterred in pursuing its previous course of refusal and confrontation – there is no trace of any desire to reach agreement,” explained the German Locomotive Drivers' Union.
Wissing: “I have zero understanding”
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing reacted to the strike announcement with sharp criticism. “I have zero understanding for this form of collective bargaining,” said the FDP politician on Monday in the ZDF “Morgenmagazin”. In his opinion, the collective bargaining conflict between Deutsche Bahn and GDL is becoming increasingly destructive. “I also don’t think that Mr. Weselsky is doing himself or his union any favors with this style,” added Wissing, referring to the GDL chairman.