german rail workers strike over pay and hours

The walkout, one of the most significant to hit the country’s train service in years, is expected to affect long-distance and commuter travel nationwide.

Passenger train drivers in Germany walked off the job on Wednesday and vowed not to return for six days in a strike over working conditions and pay that is expected to halt most long-distance and commuter rail travel across the country.

The strike, one of the most significant on the national rail service in years, was announced on Monday by Claus Weselsky, the chairman of the G.D.L., a union that represents German train drivers. Mr. Weselsky, in a terse news conference, said that negotiations with rail bosses had broken down and accused the chief negotiator of the national rail company, Deutsche Bahn, of “trickery and deception,” especially with regard to the latest offer.

The rail strike, the fourth in two months, comes amid a risk of reduced funding for the rail system after a court decision that stopped the government from repurposing money from a coronavirus pandemic fund for green projects. It also comes amid a trend of worsening performance of German trains. More broadly, there is general dissatisfaction with the administration of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, which is plagued by infighting and seen by some as being removed from the problems facing regular Germans.

This time, the walkout is scheduled to run through the weekend and will therefore affect more leisure travelers than the recent previous strikes, which have taken place during the week and lasted no longer than three days. Drivers of cargo trains started the strike on Tuesday evening.

About 7.3 million people ride trains in Germany operated by Deutsche Bahn every day, and the number is growing as more travelers switch to rail amid concerns about climate change. Deutsche Bahn trains also move roughly 600,000 tonnes of freight each day, according to federal data.

Deutsche Bahn tried to obtain an emergency injunction before a three-day walkout this month, but a court in Frankfurt found that the union had the right to strike. The company said on Monday that it would not go back to the courts to try to force employees back to work.

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