Strike-hit Germany awaits worse rail travel chaos

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The German train drivers’ union on Friday threatened long strikes on the railways from next week, as the country struggles with a wave of public sector strikes disrupting hospitals, kindergartens and transport.

The GDL rail union plans fresh strikes on passenger and freight services from Monday, escalating a months-long wage dispute with rail operator Deutsche Bahn and which could cost Europe’s largest economy millions of euros (dollars). “We can keep striking as long as Germany can stand it,” GDL chief Manfred Schell told the Neue Presse newspaper. The union has agreed a pay rise for its 34,000 members but is unhappy with the terms of the proposed contract

Germany has already been hit this week by two other separate wage disputes. Around 80,000 public sector workers staged token strikes to increase pressure on the government to improve wages by 8%. Unions have threatened to stage more strikes if there is no agreement in the fifth round of wage talks, which started in the eastern city of Potsdam on Thursday, and continues on Friday. A separate wage dispute in Berlin has crippled trams, buses and underground trains for a third day running. On Wednesday, some 100,000 workers took part in walkouts, causing flight cancellations and bottlenecks in traffic. (Reuters)

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