German rail workers begin 24-hour strike as pay talks stall

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing Germany's train drivers began a 24-hour strike Thursday night, causing widespread rail cancellations and travel disruptions across the country.

The GDL union strike for passenger services began at 10 pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday and will continue till 10 pm (2100 GMT) on Friday. The strike for goods trains started at 6 pm on Thursday.

German railway Deutsche Bahn said about 20% of its long-distance trains would still run on Friday, but urged customers to delay non-essential journeys where possible. interruptions follow major snowfall Transit was disrupted in Munich and parts of southern Germany earlier in the week.

This week's strike came after talks between GDL and Deutsche Bahn broke down after just two rounds of talks. The GDL is demanding a pay rise, a lump sum payment to help tackle inflation and a reduction in weekly working hours from 38 to 35. Deutsche Bahn said it had made an offer that was equivalent to an 11% increase.

Limited "warning strikes" are a common tactic in German wage negotiations. This walkout happened after a 20-hour strike on 16th NovemberWhen Deutsche Bahn ran a similarly short long-distance programme.

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The strength of the GDL among drivers and some other railway personnel varies regionally, and some regional services operated by private operators are not affected by the dispute.

This strike is expected to be GDL's last strike this year, but the union may soon expand its action. GDL chairman Klaus Weselski told German radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk that if no deal is reached the strikes could become "longer and more intense" as early as 2024.

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