German trains halted by strike

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Friday, October 5, 2007

On Friday morning, commuters and travelers in Germany were forced to find alternative methods of transportation as train drivers walked off the job. Between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday morning, a German court gave the authorization for a strike. The strike was permitted only for drivers of local and regional trains. Drivers of long-distance and intercity trains, ICE high-speed rail networks and freight transports were forbidden from participating due to possible impact on the German economy.

Germany's public workers' union is demanding a 31 percent wage increase that would put the German train drivers' wages equal with their counterparts in other European countries. Currently, starting drivers earn €1,970 per month. The union is pushing for a pay increase of €2,500 per month for starting drivers.

The Deutsche Bahn, Germany's government-owned train system, has so far refused to increase the drivers' wages. They have, however, offered to give train drivers a five percent pay increase if the drivers are willing to work two extra hours every week. The offer also stated that if the train drivers are willing to work even more hours per week, they could be eligible for a pay increase of up to 9.5 percent.

The union has also demanded equal pay for drivers in former East Germany. Georg Milbradt, chief negotiator for Germany's state governments, said that giving equal wages to the drivers in former East Germany would be extremely difficult.