New strikes? Deutsche Bahn and GDL do not reach an agreement

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No agreement could be reached this Thursday in the collective bargaining dispute between Deutsche Bahn and the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL). The news ticker.

Update from November 9th, 3:20 p.m.: The first round of negotiations in the collective bargaining dispute between Deutsche Bahn and the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) According to the company, the deal ended on Thursday without an agreement. The negotiations will continue next week, the railway announced on Thursday afternoon. “We welcome the fact that the train drivers’ union wants to continue negotiating on the basis of our offer,” said Human Resources Director Martin Seiler. Four further appointments have been arranged. “Nothing has changed in our clear no to reducing working hours,” emphasized the manager.

In the afternoon, the GDL initially did not provide any information about the status of things and how to proceed. Before negotiations began, union leader Claus Weselsky announced that there would be no agreement without a regulation to reduce working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours per week and promised rapid labor disputes.

On Thursday, the railway proposed to the union, among other things, an eleven percent wage increase over a period of 32 months. However, the group did not address the GDL’s core requirement, working hours, in the offer. The union is also demanding, among other things, 555 euros more money per month and an inflation compensation bonus.

Collective bargaining: Deutsche Bahn offers train drivers eleven percent more pay

Update from November 9th, 10:04 a.m.: Collective bargaining between the train drivers’ union GDL and Deutsche Bahn began on Thursday. If no agreement is reached, Rail customers could face strikes this year, 2023. The railway is rushing ahead with an initial offer at the start of the collective bargaining round: the company is offering eleven percent more wages and an inflation bonus of up to 2,850 euros, as it announced on Thursday. The company suggested a term of 32 months – so the offer is based on the previous contracts with the GDL.

However, the reduction in working hours with full wage compensation demanded by the GDL – one of the union’s core concerns – is “the wrong approach,” explained Deutsche Bahn’s human resources director Martin Seiler. A 35-hour week in a four-day week with full wage compensation is “not feasible” given the costs and capacities, so a reduction in working hours is not part of the offer.

The next wage dispute at the railway begins on Thursday, this time with the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL). © Marijan Murat/dpa

“We continue to focus on cooperation instead of confrontation,” explained Seiler. “That’s why we offered the union a collective bargaining agreement equal to the volume of the federal public service.” This means that the railway has taken a big step towards the union. Details now need to be designed specifically for the GDL.

Update from November 9th, 8:35 a.m.: Before the start of collective bargaining negotiations with Deutsche Bahn, the head of the train drivers’ union GDL, Claus Weselsky, shown to be both willing to compromise and ready to strike. “We are always willing to compromise,” said the union chairman on Thursday morning Bavarian Radio. It has never happened before that the GDL’s demands have been “satisfied one-to-one”.

However, it appears that a compromise will not come about easily, Weselsky continued. The signs from the employer are such that “there is a very high probability that we will have to go into industrial action,” he said. “But if we get a negotiable offer, we don’t need to go on strike.” The talks begin on Thursday morning in Berlin. The railway wants to submit an offer right from the start.

Deutsche Bahn and GDL are negotiating: Weselsky wants to submit an offer

Update from November 8th, 2:10 p.m.: Deutsche Bahn will present an offer to the train drivers’ union and its boss Weselsky on Thursday Frankfurter Rundschau von IPPEN.MEDIA learned from circles. An offer in the first round of a collective bargaining dispute is unusual; both sides usually feel each other out in the first meeting.

“The best peace offer would be an offer at the negotiations on November 9th that addresses our demands,” Weselsky said in an FR interview with a view to strikes during the Christmas season said. However, it is unlikely that Deutsche Bahn will meet all of the GDL’s demands.

A Deutsche Bahn ICE train pulls into the main station
A Deutsche Bahn ICE train pulls into the main station. © Matthias Balk/dpa

The most important questions: Is there a new rail strike coming?

First report from November 8th: Berlin – Many travelers will remember: It has only been three months since German railway and the Railway and Transport Union (EVG) reached a collective bargaining compromise after lengthy negotiations and arbitration. During this time, the EVG paralyzed rail traffic in Germany twice through warning strikes. Now customers once again have to worry about whether their trains will run. The next collective bargaining dispute at the railways will begin next Thursday, this time with the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL) under the leadership of Claus Weselsky. Although the GDL is the smaller rail union, that doesn’t make negotiations any easier.

Are we facing another strike and standstill at Deutsche Bahn?

Yes, travelers have to prepare for the GDL to quickly enter the industrial dispute. Weselsky has already announced that he will not spend much time on warning strikes, for which there are strict rules. He is seeking a quick strike vote among union members in order to be able to carry out indefinite strikes. The GDL has not yet announced any concrete actions. But Weselsky has repeatedly emphasized that even the Christmas holidays are not safe from labor disputes.

Although the GDL has significantly fewer members than the EVG, it traditionally primarily represents the train drivers and train crew. If they go on strike, trains won’t run. In previous collective bargaining rounds, the union has often proven that it is capable of completely paralyzing rail transport nationwide for a long period of time.

What are Deutsche Bahn and GDL arguing about?

The union is demanding 555 euros more per month as well as an inflation compensation bonus of 3,000 euros – less a portion of this tax- and duty-free one-off payment that has already been paid. The term should be twelve months. However, a main point of contention in the negotiations is the demand to reduce the working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours with full wage compensation. Weselsky says he wants to increase the attractiveness of the profession given the nationwide shortage of skilled workers.

“We have too few train drivers, too few train attendants, now too few dispatchers, too few workshop employees,” the GDL boss told the German Press Agency a few weeks ago. This is not due to demographic change. “But it is the unattractiveness of the professions, the activities that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year in the railway system.”

The railway has already rejected the GDL’s demands as “unfulfillable”. “If we were to fully implement this, we would have to hire around 10,000 additional employees in shift work,” said Human Resources Director Martin Seiler recently in Berlin.

Are there any other points of contention regarding the collective agreement?

Yes. As in the GDL’s previous collective bargaining rounds, this conflict is characterized by the debate about the so-called Unified Collective Bargaining Act. It stipulates that in a company with several unions, only the collective agreement of the strongest employee representation is implemented. For the approximately 300 companies that make up Deutsche Bahn, this is usually EVG. The GDL contracts are currently only used in 18 railway companies. From the perspective of the train drivers’ union, however, there is no secure procedure for determining the number of members in the respective companies. She is therefore suing in several cases against the company’s determinations, some of which have already been filed in the final instance before the Federal Labor Court.

The GDL is therefore trying to expand its sphere of influence on the railways. In this collective bargaining round she would also like to negotiate for the employees of the infrastructure department. The railway rejects this. So far, the GDL does not have its own collective agreements there.

What is the new GDL cooperative all about?

With regard to the Unified Collective Bargaining Act, the union announced in the summer that it wanted to set up its own temporary agency in the form of a cooperative. According to Weselsky, this has already happened. Recruitment interviews are currently underway, he recently emphasized. The employees of this company could now be loaned out to the railway under GDL conditions. In this way, the GDL collective agreements could also be applied in companies in which EVG actually has the majority of employees.

Because the cooperative does not negotiate its collective agreements with the railway, but with the GDL. A corresponding company collective agreement has already been agreed, said Weselsky. “The cooperative is the solution to this outrageousness,” said Weselsky South German newspaper in relation to the Tariff Uniformity Act. (with dpa and AFP)

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