Millions of travellers stuck as transport union members strike again in Germany

Trains are at a standstill across Germany.
Trains are at a standstill across Germany. Copyright Michael Probst/AP
Copyright Michael Probst/AP
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Rail and air workers' unions are threatening to resort to even more disruptive striking tactics in the future.


Millions of travellers across Germany have been hit by strikes again on Thursday after two unions called for two-day walkouts over wages and work conditions.

Around 80% of all long-distance trains as well as regional and commuter trains in the country were cancelled as train drivers went on strike. Air travel was affected as well, with ground staff for German airline Lufthansa stopping work early in the morning.

The strikes led to traffic jams in cities and on highways, a shortage of share and rental cars, and a rush of plane passengers trying to rebook flights. Students arrived late for school and employees struggled to arrive on time for work as millions who usually rely on commuter trains found themselves stranded or stuck in traffic.

Lufthansa said earlier in the week that about 1,000 flights per day would have to be cancelled, with around 200,000 air passengers affected.

Negotiations continue for Lufthansa ground staff and German rail operator Deutsche Bahn's train drivers. The train drivers’ union GDL and Verdi called for the strikes Thursday and Friday.

GDL has been calling for pay rises and a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week without a pay cut. Deutsche Bahn has so far refused to meet the terms.

The Verdi union, meanwhile, is seeking a pay raise of 12.5%, or at least €500 more per month, for nearly 25,000 Lufthansa ground workers.

Thursday's stoppages are the latest of several mass walkouts in the rail, air and local transport sectors in Germany in recent months, testing passengers' patience.

GDL announced earlier this week that more strikes were coming in the near future, but said it would no longer announce them 48 hours in advance, giving travellers less time to look for alternatives.

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