German Train Drivers Start Six-Day Strike

Germany’s GDL train drivers’ union called on Sunday for a seven-day strike, starting with freight trains on Monday and passenger traffic on Tuesday. The stoppages will continue until 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 10th,  according to Reuters.

The six-day strike by the  GDL drivers union is  the eighth since January and the longest in the history of Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railway. The GDL, which represents 20,000 drivers, is seeking a 5 percent wage increase, a reduction in the working week to 37 hours from 39 hours and the right to negotiate on behalf of some of Deutsche Bahn’s other 180,000 employees.

The union called the strike with short notice, which prevented rail freight customers, including container transport firms, from taking pre-emptive action such as turning to road transport to minimize disruption.

Deutsche Bahn, Europe’s largest rail freight operator, transports around a fifth of Germany’s freight, or more than 600,000 metric tons a day.

A near week-long strike  threatens to clog container yards at the country’s leading ports and cause massive disruption to industrial supply chains across Europe’s largest economy.

The strike, scheduled to run until 9 a.m. Sunday, will hit the steel, chemicals and auto sectors the hardest, but it will also disrupt the transport of ocean containers to and from Germany’s largest ports, Hamburg and Bremen/Bremerhaven, which rely on rail much more than other European container hubs.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the development of the situation and provide further updates once available.