Another strike by train drivers paralyzes train traffic. Deutsche Bahn fails with second application for interim injunction.
The 16. The 2nd Chamber of the Hessian Labor Court has announced a decision: According to the decision, the train drivers’ strike can continue as planned until Tuesday morning. Hesse’s state labor court announced Friday that it had rejected Deutsche Bahn’s appeal, which the state-owned company had used to stop industrial action by the GDL union.
Deutsche Bahn wanted to obtain an interim injunction to stop the industrial action, which was scheduled to continue until Tuesday. It argued that the German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) had called for illegal strike action. In addition, the train drivers carried out an inadmissible support strike for other rail employees.
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Deutsche Bahn failed Thursday night in its first attempt to legally end the strike by the German Train Drivers Union (GDL): The Frankfurt Labor Court rejected an interim injunction by the group against the industrial action. The strike may thus continue. The GDL confirmed the planned continuation of the work stoppage on Friday morning.
"The chamber has confirmed to us quite clearly: The industrial action is lawful, it is permissible and it is also proportionate," said GDL leader Claus Weselsky after the hearing. "This big cinema is the exact repetition of the story from 2014 and 2015."
In the previous round of collective bargaining, Deutsche Bahn had already filed a lawsuit against the GDL’s industrial action and also lost. Once again, the Group has announced that it will appeal the decision of the labor court to the next court of appeal. At the regional labor court, the trial was to begin as early as Friday, as a judicial spokeswoman announced.
"We were aware that the hurdles in summary proceedings are very high and that the right to strike is very protected in Germany, with good reason," a spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn said in the evening. "Nevertheless, we see it as our responsibility to leave no stone unturned in the interest of our customers to end the strike."
With the interim injunction, Deutsche Bahn wanted to stop the train drivers’ strike, which the GDL had extended to passenger services on Thursday as well. The labor court rejected the motion. Earlier, an attempt by presiding judge Volker Schulze to bring both sides back to the negotiating table with a settlement had failed. The chamber then ruled in the summary proceedings that the GDL’s strike objectives were not manifestly unlawful.
The GDL had again refused to enter talks until all its demands from last May were met. Thus, the labor dispute is expected to continue on Friday. The strike is to continue until Tuesday morning.
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The strikes are paralyzing train traffic again – it is the third and longest strike within a few weeks: Despite a new offer from Deutsche Bahn, the third round of strikes by the German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL) in passenger transport began early Thursday morning. The industrial action was as planned at 2.00 o’clock started, announced the strike management of the union.
Weselsky finds offer "unacceptable in terms of content"
GDL leader Weselsky rejected the new collective bargaining offer from Deutsche Bahn as unacceptable. The management’s offer is "not acceptable in terms of content", Weselsky said on ARD television on Thursday. The bad news for rail customers is: "The strike continues."
He accused the railroad management of "Janus-facedness" from. This attitude had become obvious with the new offer. The actual goal of the management is to get rid of the GDL. Weselsky added that the union will "of course" Negotiate further with the railroads.
Wednesday’s offer includes a Corona bonus of up to 600 euros and provides for the collective agreement to run for 36 months. Until now, Deutsche Bahn had offered a term of 40 months and had not quantified the amount of the premium.
For the time being, rail customers will have to prepare for severe restrictions in the company’s long-distance and regional services until probably Tuesday morning. Deutsche Bahn has announced it will run about one in four long-distance trains. In regional and suburban rail services, around 40 percent of the usual offer will remain in place.
Freight traffic has also been affected since late Wednesday afternoon. The consequences are drastic: In freight traffic, the strike will primarily affect the steel industry, automotive and mechanical engineering suppliers, as well as the chemical and petroleum industries. The Federal Association of Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services warned that the fact that supply chains had now been disrupted once again was jeopardizing the economic recovery. And for hundreds of thousands of travelers, numerous long-distance trains, regional trains and commuter trains are once again cancelled in several German states, just in time for the end of the vacations.
What is the strike about?
This wage dispute is special because it’s not just about working conditions, but also about the power of the unions in the DB Group. There are two conflicts: GDL versus Deutsche Bahn and also GDL versus EVG, the much larger rail transport union. Deutsche Bahn has announced that it will apply the law on collective bargaining unity for the first time this year. At the core of the law is the privileging of the larger trade unions in the event that two trade unions conclude a collective agreement for the same employees in a company.
The 37.000 members, the GDL is now afraid of being taken over by the railroads and the EVG (184.000 members) to be cold-called and tries to use the labor dispute to gain additional members. Strikes, however, may only be for better working conditions: The GDL wants a 1.4 percent increase this year and a corona premium of 600 euros per head, and another 1.8 percent in 2022. The new tariff is to be valid for 28 months. Deutsche Bahn, on the other hand, wants a term of 40 months and wants the percentage increase to take place later. Ten days ago, the railroad had announced ae corona premium, but did not give a number. The GDL then went on strike anyway.
Who is particularly affected?
Both long-distance travelers and commuters:inside who rely on regional and suburban trains must expect massive restrictions. Three quarters of the connections in the normal timetable are cancelled, according to Deutsche Bahn.
Local transport in and around Berlin is also massively affected. The Berlin S-Bahn is maintaining a minimal service, focusing on connections between the city center and the surrounding area. Commuters should at least be able to get to the next BVG subway station every 20 minutes, because the state-owned company is not affected by the strike.
On the S-Bahn, on the other hand, the Ring has been completely discontinued, as have the branches to Wartenberg, Spandau and Spindlersfeld. From Spandau – as on other routes – the regional transport offers itself as a substitute. Although most trains on the DB lines are cancelled there as well, some lines are operated by Odeg, which is also not on strike. On weekends, the S-Bahn will further reduce its service due to construction work. Particularly affected are the area east of Lichtenberg station and the lines between Gesundbrunnen and Waidmannslust and Hennigsdorf. The real offer should be fed into the electronic timetable information of the transport association VBB with a maximum of four hours in advance.
How to get where I’m going if I absolutely have to travel now?
The ADAC advises all those who want to change to a car spontaneously to take a close look at the traffic situation on the route beforehand. You can expect a lot of return traffic in some states because of the summer vacations, for example in Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg and Thuringia. That’s why there will be traffic jams, especially in southern Germany, he said. In addition, there are the weekend trippers, and the seasonal Saturday driving ban for trucks had just expired.
Rental cars could be in short supply next weekend, although the International Car Rental Association says sufficient vehicles would be provided. Those who want to use car sharing instead should pay attention to rates and terms and conditions and compare prices. For longer journeys, there are packages with larger kilometer or time contingents with various providers.
However, these are often not suitable for one-way trips: Those who rent a car from Share Now in Berlin, for example, can’t simply park it in the provider’s business area in another city, but must bring it back to the capital. Trips abroad are not possible with all providers or have to be announced in advance.
Another rail alternative is long-distance buses. But even in those, it should be crowded: Demand tripled in the run-up to the GDL strike, said a Flixbus spokeswoman. For this reason, there will be "selective additional services". On the other hand, the competitor Blablacar, which according to its own statement set booking records during the last train drivers’ strike, does not intend to use additional buses this time either. The company’s own carpooling service could absorb the increase in demand, they said.
What rights do travelers have now?
Tickets already booked for long-distance trains that are cancelled due to the strike can be flexibly refunded up to and including 17. September will be used. With savings prices the train connection is omitted. If the trip is not taken at all, tickets can be refunded free of charge. In the event of significant delays due to the strike, reimbursement is also possible, which can be applied for via the Internet. How much compensation you get depends on the length of the delay. In case of a delay of more than 60 minutes, the railroad company must provide free refreshments and meals.
The railroad also recommends urgently reserving a seat on the remaining trains. Bicycles can only be taken on long-distance trains during the strike days with a reservation for a parking space.If you have them, but the train is cancelled due to a strike, the bike can be shipped free of charge via DB Luggage Service.
Up-to-date information on which trains are still running is available online at bahn.de, in the DB Navigator app or by calling the free hotline on 08000 99 66 33. Consumer advocates also recommend proving the delay with photos or screenshots. The railroad also recommends to have delays always confirmed by employees of the company. If another means of transport is chosen because of a delay, there is also the possibility of compensation here.
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Those who change to their own car, however, cannot have the costs reimbursed. Just as little as business travelers, for whom an important business appointment has been cancelled due to the strike. There is no right to compensation here. Those who wanted to travel by train on business but were unable to do so due to the strike will at least be reimbursed for the cost of their ticket. Unlike airlines, railroads cannot invoke force majeure here, the European Court of Justice ruled back in 2013.
Can I be late for work or even stay in the home office??
Workers:inside must appear on time at work despite strike. If they don’t, they risk having their pay cut proportionately for the time missed. As in the case of natural events such as snow, black ice or flooding, the so-called path risk applies here. Employees must look for alternative travel options, possible additional costs must be borne by themselves. How much depends on the individual case, according to labor law experts. If you don’t work in shifts or have flextime, delays should be less of a problem anyway, and it’s easier to make up for lost time.
Always, however, employees should immediately notify their superiors that they will be late, otherwise they could face a warning letter.
According to labor law experts, the topic of home office should also be discussed in advance. Who fears delays, may not simply stay at home and work from there. In Germany, there is no statutory right to work at home.
What happens next?
The railroad acted trickily. Immediately before the second strike, it announced ten days ago the willingness to pay a Corona premium – without being specific. Weselsky spoke of a sham offer at the time and went through with the strike. Late Wednesday afternoon, the game was repeated: about nine hours before the start of the strike in passenger transport, personnel director Martin Seiler took a big step toward the GDL: in addition to shortening the duration of the collective bargaining agreement, he offered a corona bonus of between 400 and 600 euros. The GDL now has a legitimacy problem and will hardly be able to stretch the industrial action over five days as planned.
Pro Bahn passenger association calls for termination
The federal chairman of the passenger association Pro Bahn, Detlef Neub, has criticized the train drivers’ union GDL for continuing the strike at Deutsche Bahn. "This is the greatest possible chaos", Neub told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) newspaper. "Passengers are up in the air and don’t know what to expect over the next few days."
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Neub demanded that the GDL should "stop the strike right now and negotiate". For passengers, the continuation of the strike is no longer comprehensible. "There is a complete lack of understanding among many rail passengers – "This can’t go on", he said. "With the chaos, many people will turn away from rail and go back to driving their cars."