Urgent motion against GDL strike: what chances does the railway have in court?


Status: 02.09.2021 2:55 p.m.

Deutsche Bahn is taking legal action with an urgent motion against the GDL to end the strike. How high are the legal hurdles for this? When can a judgment be expected?

By Frank Bräutigam, ARD legal editor

After the train drivers’ union GDL started its five-day strike in passenger transport that night despite a new tariff offer from the railway, Deutsche Bahn is now taking legal action against the labor dispute.

Is the right to strike guaranteed by the Basic Law?

Yes that’s it. The Basic Law does not expressly contain a sentence such as “every trade union has the right to strike”. But Article 9 of the Basic Law expressly regulates the right to form trade unions. It is recognized that one of the most important rights of a union is industrial action.

The right to strike is therefore a fundamental right and thus a great good. This is also emphasized again and again from all sides. However, there are also certain legal limits to a strike. It is now asserting the web, and that is what it will be about in court now.

What are these legal limits?

Legal limits for a strike include: The strike must pursue a goal that can really be regulated in a new collective agreement, such as wages or the length of work. For example, it cannot be a purely politically motivated strike. On this point, Deutsche Bahn says that, even after the latest statements in this labor dispute, the GDL is evidently more concerned with legal and political issues than with finding solutions for good working conditions at the negotiating table. The GDL will certainly see it differently in court.

Another limit: the strike must also be “proportionate” to achieve the goal. Put simply, it has to be the last resort and not be overly harsh. “Relatively” is a flexible term. The hurdles for a court to stop a strike with this argument tend to be rather high.

The railway is applying for an injunction in response to further escalation in the GDL strike

Joscha Bartlitz, HR, daily news 8:00 p.m., September 2, 2021

How is it going in court now?

Deutsche Bahn has submitted an urgent application to the Frankfurt Labor Court. The court immediately scheduled a hearing – for 6 p.m. today. The arguments are then exchanged in the courtroom. And then the labor court will possibly make a decision late in the evening whether it will issue an injunction, i.e. stop the strike for the time being, or not.

There has been a comparable process before, for example in November 2014. At that time, Deutsche Bahn was unsuccessful in court. How the current procedure will turn out cannot be predicted. And no matter how the Frankfurt Labor Court decides, it does not necessarily have to be the last word in court. Anyone who loses can then appeal in an urgent procedure.

Rail strike in court

Frank Bräutigam, SWR, September 2, 2021 5:36 pm

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