Germany is paralyzed by strikes affecting airlines and railways
Trains, planes and public transport systems remained stationary across Germany on Monday as labor unions called for a massive one-day strike on wages in a bid to win inflation hikes. distributed to their members.
The 24-hour strike – one of the largest in decades – also affected rail and ocean freight, as workers at the country’s ports and waterways join the strike.
Many commuters chose to drive to work, causing some delays on the road, while those able to work from home.
Unions are looking to raise wages by at least 10.5% and have turned down an offer from employers of a two-year 5% rate plus one-time payments.
Ulrich Silberbach of the Civil Service Federation said that high inflation also hit other places last year which hit many workers hard.
“We have seen a decline in real wages and these need to be balanced,” he told reporters in Berlin, adding that some of his union members in the cities are having to apply for state subsidies to pay rent.
Silberbach says he expects employers to increase their offers in upcoming negotiations – otherwise unions may have to consider an unlimited strike.
His colleague Martin Burkert from the rail union EVG laments that workers’ wages are a fraction of what some top managers earn.
But rail company Deutsche Bahn called the union’s claims exaggerated and warned that millions of passengers would be affected.
“Thousands of companies that normally send or receive goods by rail will also be affected,” Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Strauss said. “The environment and climate will eventually suffer. The winners today are the oil companies.”
Train tickets that cannot be used due to disruptions will remain valid, he said, and travelers should check the company’s website for updates.
Three days of negotiations are scheduled between the two sides. Interior Secretary Nancy Faeser, who represents the federal government in the negotiations, said her side would engage in discussions in a “tough but also fair and constructive” way.
Faeser said she believes a good solution can be reached.
Strikes are common in Germany and often end in a compromise agreement between the union and the employer.
The hike caused disruption and delays on Sunday, as tourists scrambled to reach their destinations early.