Germany: Labor strike disrupts train service for 2nd day

BERLIN (AP) — Striking railway workers in Germany kept much of the country’s train service suspended Thursday as they continued their nationwide work stoppage for a second day.

Only one-quarter of long-distance trains were running and about 40 % of regional and local commuter trains, German news agency dpa reported. The strike also put many cargo trains out of action.

The railway workers belonging to the GDL union had voted earlier with an overwhelming majority for a strike to underline their demands for a 3.2 % pay raise and a one-time “coronavirus bonus” payment of 600 euros ($704).

German train operator Deutsche Bahn has rejected the demands. The company has lost billions since the start of the pandemic and from recent floods that destroyed or damaged numerous railroad tracks.

Deutsche Bahn has put in place a replacement schedule and lifted its pandemic distancing measures to allow every seat on the trains still operating to be used during the strike.

With 11 of Germany’s 16 states still on summer vacation, travelers ordinarily would be replying heavily on trains to get around. In places where schools have reopened for a new term, the strike also affected students and other commuters.

GDL has said it plans to end the strike Friday at 2 a.m. (0000 GMT).

The union, which has more than 35,000 members, went on nationwide strikes eight times in 2014 and 2015 to push through its demands.

During the recent negotiations, the larger EVG railway workers union agreed to a deal last year which included a 1.5% increase in 2022 and rules out job cuts.

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