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More strikes averted as German railways, drivers reach pay deal

By Reuters

BERLIN -German rail operator Deutsche Bahn reached a pay deal with train drivers on Thursday, averting the threat of further strike action after three stoppages paralysed passenger and freight traffic in Europe’s largest economy.

The breakthrough followed 10 days of secret talks in which the governors of two German regional states were brought in to bridge differences between the GdL train drivers’ union and management of the loss-making state railways.

The compromise package, which has a 32-month duration, features pay rises totalling 3.3%, a series of one-off coronavirus hardship payments and a pension deal.

“We have untied the Gordian knot,” Deutsche Bahn personnel chief Martin Seiler told a news conference. Standing alongside him, GdL leader Claus Weselsky said the strike action had been justified in achieving the hard-fought compromise.

The most recent week-long stoppage forced the cancellation of three-quarters of long-distance trains and disrupted industrial supply chains already under strain as the economy recovers from last year’s pandemic shock.

Stefan Weil, Social Democrat state premier of Lower Saxony state, and Daniel Guenther, the conservative leader of Schleswig-Holstein, paused campaigning for this month’s general election to help broker the breakthrough.