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GDL and Bahn are negotiating again in the collective bargaining dispute – no strikes for the time being

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GDL and Bahn are negotiating again in the collective bargaining dispute – no strikes for the time being

Economic agreement in sight

GDL and Bahn are negotiating again – no further strikes for the time being

Status: 16.03.2024 | Reading time: 3 minutes

Bahn and GDL are negotiating again

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the German Locomotive Drivers Union (GDL) are negotiating again. The talks are taking place “in small circles and behind closed doors,” as both sides announced on Saturday. WELT TV reporter Gerrit Seebald reports.

At Deutsche Bahn, the strikes with nationwide train cancellations are coming to an end. The company and the train drivers’ union GDL unanimously announced on Saturday that negotiations would take place again.

Breathe a sigh of relief for rail travelers: An agreement is emerging in the collective bargaining dispute between the train drivers’ union GDL and Deutsche Bahn. “Both parties are confident that they will be able to announce a result next week,” the company and the union said on Saturday. “Until then, the GDL will refrain from further strikes,” the same message continued.

The GDL and Bahn also surprised everyone with the news that they were negotiating with each other again. “An agreement was reached on many topics,” it said. The negotiations therefore take place behind closed doors. It was agreed not to disclose the further status of the negotiations: “The negotiations are intensive but constructive.”

Easter holidays begin in many places

Two weeks before Easter, this should be good news for many passengers. In some federal states the Easter holidays begin this Monday. Against this background, Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing called on the air transport and rail unions to observe an Easter peace agreement. “It is important that a solution is found now,” said the FDP politician on Saturday on the sidelines of the Rhineland-Palatinate state party conference. The collective bargaining conflicts would have to be resolved within the framework of collective bargaining autonomy.

The Pro Bahn passenger association also received approval. “The foreseeable agreement is in any case in the interests of the passengers, who would have had less and less understanding of further strike measures,” said chairman Detlef Neuß of the German Press Agency. Strikes would be a setback for the mobility transition, especially during the travel-intensive Easter period. “Passengers already have enough problems with the normal delays,” said Neuß.

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The two sides most recently sat together behind closed doors for several weeks in February to find a solution to the collective bargaining dispute. The former Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister Daniel Günther (both CDU) mediated this phase. It initially remained unclear whether the two would appear as moderators again in this round of negotiations.

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This time too, despite this possibility, it will not be a formal arbitration. The GDL in particular has so far rejected this. In such a case, both sides would first reach an arbitration agreement. This often means that an arbitrator’s decision is binding for both sides. This did not apply to the compromise proposal that de Maizière and Günther made in the most recent round of negotiations. The union therefore did not accept it.

The sticking point is a 35-hour week

The crux of the negotiations recently was the dispute over a reduction in working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours per week, as demanded by the GDL, with the same salary. The railway had previously shown itself ready to reduce working hours to 36 hours in two steps by 2028 without financial losses. However, GDL boss Claus Weselsky did not agree to this.

The union has already concluded collective agreements with more than two dozen other railway companies that stipulate the 35-hour week. However, these are subject to the condition that the railway also agrees to such a deal. Otherwise, the existing contracts would be adjusted accordingly. Weselsky wants to prevent that.

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The GDL has already called for industrial action six times in the collective bargaining dispute. Most recently, the union resorted to a so-called wave strike, which it announced at much shorter notice than previous strikes. With the resumption of negotiations, the GDL has now committed itself to refraining from further strikes for the duration of the talks.

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