The mass walkout affects national operator Deutsche Bahn and coincided with peak hours on Friday morning.
Passenger trains ground to a halt across Germany on Friday morning amid a nationwide strike launched by workers’ union EVG, which is demanding pay rises for railway staff. The action coincides with similar walkouts at several major German airports which started on Thursday.
The ‘warning strike’ on rail networks began at 3am local time and is scheduled to end at 11am, meaning it covers the morning rush hours.
EVG executive board member Cosima Ingenschay argued that “by calling this time for a time-limited warning strike in the early morning hours, we send a clear signal that we do not want to affect the passengers, but rather the companies.”
Friday’s walkout has impacted city trains as well as regional and long-distance lines.
Meanwhile, a separate strike by security personnel at airports in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Stuttgart is underway as workers seek pay rises. According to Germany’s ADV airport association, the walkout has affected 45,200 passengers on Thursday alone, with that number expected to reach 100,000 by the end of Friday.
While the rail strike ends at 11am, Deutsche Bahn has warned it will not resume long-haul services until at least 1pm on Friday. Delays and cancelations are expected throughout the day, the operator pointed out.
“All who can replan [their journey], should do this,” Deutsche Bahn official Martin Seiler advised. He accused EVG of losing “its sense of proportion” and provoking “chaos.”
The union is in talks with about 50 companies, including the national railway operator. It is demanding that workers’ monthly pay be hiked by at least €650 ($710) or 12% within 12 months. The minimum wage is also among the issues being discussed.
Deutsche Bahn has so far offered a 5% increase plus a one-off payment of up to €2,500 – a proposal EVG has rejected as inadequate.
Another round of wage negotiations is expected next Tuesday.
Inflation in Germany has risen to levels unseen since the 1990s over the past year, with the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of anti-Russian sanctions stated as among the causes.