As expected, Germany’s freight train strike has spread to passenger services, stranding commuters across the country. The long-running train drivers’ pay dispute shows no signs of ending. Both sides insist they want talks but driver Sven Schmidt says the union will not back down: “Since Deutsche Bahn has not come up with a new offer, we have to show that we really mean it, and we have to keep up the pressure on the company.”
The union says its members are underpaid compared to other European drivers and is demanding a 31 percent rise. Deutsche Bahn paid its other rail workers 4.5 percent in July. Company spokesman Karl-Friedrich Rausch has ruled out a separate deal with the drivers: “This strike is pointless because the dispute could have been solved long ago. They are trying to force an unconditional surrender. That is not going to happen.”
Other rail services, like underground trains in Berlin, are still running, but the dispute is already the worst in German rail history and there are concerns about the knock-on effects for Europe’s biggest economy.