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German train drivers' pay row heads for mediation

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German train drivers' pay row heads for mediation


German train drivers and the rail operator Deutsche Bahn are now both proposing a process of mediation to try to reach agreement over the drivers’ 31 percent pay demand, and avert more strikes. On Wednesday, a court ruled any nationwide strike by train drivers would be illegal. But in Berlin and Hamburg rush hour trains ground to a halt causing commuter chaos. On Monday the train drivers’ union GDL gave up on direct talks with Deutsche Bahn saying there was no point in any more negotiations. It is appealing the court decision forbidding the planned strikes.

In the meantime, the union has suggested former Christian Democrat politician Heiner Geissler, with experience in arbitration, fight its corner. The drivers are now saying they will consider a realistic offer. Deutsche Bahn has also suggested a mediator to the union to act on its behalf. He has been named as Kurt Biedenkopf, a former state premier and a Christian democrat, like Geissler. According to a recent poll more than half the German population think the train drivers are right to strike.

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