Consequences for Austria – German strikes: what travelers need to know now


Travelers are in for a stressful week in Germany. As of Thursday morning, thousands of employees from both Deutsche Bahn (DB) and AUA parent company Lufthansa have been called to strike. Numerous trains and flights are at risk of being cancelled, as previous rounds of strikes have already shown. The strikes will probably also be felt in Austria.

The GDL Deutsche Locomotive Machinists’ Union with chairman Claus Weselsky and the Verdi service union are responsible for this. Here you will find some questions and answers about the recent strikes in German transport.

What awaits Lufthansa passengers and train guests?
According to an initial assessment by the Lufthansa Group, around 200,000 passengers will be affected on the two strike days announced by Verdi, Thursday and Friday. This suggests that, as with two previous strike waves, around 1,000 flights per day will again be canceled and only around a tenth of the original supply can be flown. Due to the simultaneous train drivers’ strike, it is no longer possible to switch to rail for shorter routes. At Deutsche Bahn, the strike in long-distance and regional transport starts at 2 a.m. on Thursday and will once again lead to significant restrictions for millions of travelers. According to the GDL, the strike will last until Friday at 1 p.m. But even after that, it will probably take some time before all trains are running normally again. In freight transport, the strike starts on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. and is expected to last until Friday at 5 a.m.

Could things get any tougher for air travelers?
Certainly. There is a possibility that employees of private aviation security companies at larger German airports will also join the warning strike of Lufthansa colleagues. Negotiations were still ongoing here on Monday, but a spokesperson for the Verdi board did not want to rule out a failure. If there are no staff present at the passenger and baggage checkpoints, no passenger will be able to enter the airport security area. Workers in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Bremen, Berlin, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Hannover, Stuttgart, Erfurt and Dresden took part in the first warning strike on February 1. The only exception, apart from smaller locations, were the airports in Bavaria, because the inspectors there work in the government service.

What should train passengers prepare for now?
Deutsche Bahn customers also have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. GDL boss Weselsky no longer wants to announce strikes about 48 hours in advance, as was recently the case. “We will start with so-called golf strikes,” he said on Monday. He also did not rule out strikes during the upcoming Easter traffic. “This means that rail is no longer a reliable means of transport,” he said. “It is very likely that the so-called emergency timetable will not be able to be used in this way.” During the previous labor disputes in the ongoing collective labor agreement dispute, the railway had always drawn up such a short timetable in order to maintain the standard. at least a limited offering. So far, about 20 percent of trains have used long-distance transport. In regional transport, the impact varied per region.

Do Verdi and GDL work together?
Both unions deny this. The GDL is not organized in the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) and competes with the DGB unions Verdi and EVG for members, influence and collective agreements in many transport companies. “We don’t have a level of cooperation,” said Verdi strike leader Marvin Reschinsky. Weselsky also emphasized on Monday about Bayerischer Rundfunk: “We have no agreements with Verdi.”

What have Deutsche Bahn and the GDL been negotiating about for weeks?
At the heart of the collective bargaining dispute, which has been simmering for months, is the GDL’s demand for a reduction in weekly working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours, without financial losses. Both sides sat together behind closed doors for almost four weeks to find a compromise. Two experienced mediators, former German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Schleswig-Holstein Prime Minister Daniel Günther (both CDU), moderated the discussions. Without success. Last Thursday, the railway announced that negotiations had failed again. According to Weselsky, a proposal from the two mediators was recently on the table that provided for a reduction in working hours to 37 hours and the possibility of reducing working hours by another half hour within an existing choice model. The union rejected that. Weselsky points to collective bargaining agreements with more than twenty smaller railroad companies that have already agreed to the 35-hour requirement. However, these contracts are subject to the condition that the railway also agrees to such an arrangement.

How do things go from here?
This is completely open. Weselsky again ruled out formal arbitration on Monday, as the passenger association Pro Bahn had recently demanded. “If, as you know, the two honorable moderators have failed to bring us together, what is the point of further mediation or further moderation?” he said. It is not foreseeable that both parties will return to the negotiating table in the near future. For passengers, the uncertainty on the railways will continue indefinitely.

Source: Krone


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