The first round of talks between Deutsche Bahn and the train drivers’ union GDL begins today. Travelers could be in for unpleasant weeks, as a tough tariff battle is already looming.
It is said to be Claus Weselsky’s last prank as head of the German Locomotive Drivers’ Union (GDL). The 64-year-old Dresden native and trained train driver does not want to run for re-election next year. Since 2008, Weselsky and his pithy megaphone calls have shaped the tariff disputes with Deutsche Bahn.
This year’s collective bargaining also promises to be difficult. Weselsky announced tough measures in advance – work could even be stopped during the Christmas weeks, according to the GDL boss. Weselsky rejects the blame for the bad timing. Deutsche Bahn and especially human resources manager Martin Seiler delayed the negotiations.
No rapprochement in sight yet
The GDL is demanding 555 euros more per month as well as an inflation compensation bonus of 3,000 euros for a term of twelve months. It also calls for a reduction in weekly working hours from 38 to 35 hours without deductions from wages.
The GDL also wants to expand its influence on the railways and, for the first time, also negotiate for employees in the infrastructure division. The union does not yet have any collective agreements there. It essentially represents train crews and vehicle maintenance employees.
Bahn personnel director Seiler considers the union’s demands to be “unfulfillable” because “if we were to meet the GDL’s demands, our personnel costs would increase by over 50 percent and that cannot be justified by anything, absolutely nothing.”
No arbitration directly Start of negotiations
In particular, the union’s demand for a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours for shift workers with full wage compensation was “not feasible,” said the railway personnel director: “If we were to fully implement this, we would have to hire around 10,000 additional employees for shift work. ” That is unimaginable given the tight labor market.
Wants to expand the influence of his union: GDL boss Claus Weselsky
For Weselsky, however, that would be a reason to declare the negotiations a failure, he said in the “Berliner Morgenpost”. Bahn personnel manager Seiler therefore offered to bring in an arbitrator in advance of the first round of negotiations – and not just after weeks of frustrating negotiations.
The GDL rejected this. The GDL has always been open to arbitration proceedings in the past; However, such a format never existed from the start. “If an arbitrator is brought in from the start, the negotiator takes himself out of the race,” Weselsky told the “Südwest Presse”.
GDL warning strikes also in private ones Traffic Company
The transport company Transdev was also recently on strike by the GDL in parts of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bremen and Saxony. According to the union, the employers offered a wage increase of eleven percent over a period of two years. However, the union is demanding 555 euros more money over a period of one year and a reduction in weekly working hours.
In the collective agreement with the EVG union, which was only reached at the end of August, the railway agreed to increase salaries in two steps by 410 euros per month and a tax-free one-off payment of 2,850 euros.
That won’t be enough for Weselsky and his GDL. Weselsky said in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (“SZ”) that the EVG did not demonstrate “great strength” with the outcome of the negotiations, but above all “a strong willingness to compromise”.
Strike vote on indefinite strikes
If Deutsche Bahn does not meet the GDL’s demands, a strike vote on indefinite strikes at the GDL is conceivable at the end of the first day of negotiations, said Weselsky in a “Morgenpost” interview.
Bahn personnel director Seiler is offering the GDL members a kind of advance: a one-off payment of 1,500 euros from the inflation compensation bonus in December – also in the hope of achieving the 14-day “Christmas peace” that the railway is aiming for.
Weselsky told the “SZ” that “the best way to have peace and quiet at Christmas” was quick negotiations. “We still have two months until Christmas, we could easily be finished by then.”