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Workers Shutting Down Germany


Workers in Germany’s transportation industries have basically shut down the country by going on strike.

Millions of travellers in Germany are facing severe disruption to transport services because of strikes by rail and airport staff.

A two-day strike by Lufthansa airline ground staff has coincided with a 35-hour strike by train drivers.

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said only 20% of long-distance trains were running and Germany’s largest airport, Frankfurt, cancelled all departures.

The strikes are the latest in a wave of industrial action to hit Germany.

The walkouts are to do with separate disputes over pay and working conditions with national carrier, Lufthansa and state-owned rail operator, Deutsche Bahn.

Deutsche Bahn said it expected “massive disruptions” on Thursday and Friday.

As well as long-distance train journeys, regional services have also been affected since early Thursday, it said.

“Enough is enough. It’s a big nuisance and I can’t quite understand whether the demands, some of which are certainly justified, have to be enforced with such harsh means,” stranded train passenger, Walter Roehrer told APTN News in Berlin.

Flights have also been greatly reduced, with German airline Lufthansa saying earlier this week that about 1,000 flights per day would be cancelled, affecting about 200,000 air passengers.

Just 10% to 20% of its original schedule was expected to take off, with flights from Hamburg and Berlin airports also disrupted.

People whining about strikes negatively affecting them is just classic. That’s the point of a strike! Yes, you might be inconvenienced! Remember when we had that commenter here several years ago who claimed to support unions but was outraged that BART workers would dare inconvenience them!

Now, why are they striking?

The German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) is demanding a reduction in the working week from 38 to 35 hours, without a pay cut, which Deutsche Bahn has refused.

The rail operator has accused the union of refusing to compromise. Its spokesperson, Achim Stauss said: “The other side doesn’t budge a millimetre from its maximum position”.

But the head of GDL, Claus Weselsky, dismissed this accusation, telling Reuters news agency it was “unfair” that management salaries had risen by 14% with millions in bonuses, while workers had to contribute to the company’s recovery.

At Lufthansa, the Ver.di union – which represents some 25,000 airline ground staff – is demanding a 12.5% pay rise or at least €500 (£426)) more per month. The union also wants an inflation compensation bonus of €3,000.

The airline has offered to increase pay by 10%, after it announced on Thursday that its profits had doubled in 2023 to €1.67bn from €791m in 2022.

But Ver.di says it is not enough, and that ground staff are barely earning the minimum wage, despite Lufthansa boasting a high profit.

The union’s chief negotiator, Marvin Reschinsky, said that bonuses for board members would be increased substantially, while “ground employees with hourly wages of €13 in some cases no longer even know how to make ends meet in Germany’s most expensive cities”.

Ah, so the rich are taking all the money. Typical.

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