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German rail union calls three-hour strike amid pay dispute
September 1, 2014 / 2:02 PM / 3 years ago

German rail union calls three-hour strike amid pay dispute

Members of the German Train Drivers' Union (GDL) applaud during a meeting in Fulda August 27, 2014.Kai Pfaffenbach

FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) - German rail workers' union GDL called a three-hour strike on Monday that will hit passenger and freight traffic across the country as it seeks to raise pressure on rail operator Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] in a pay dispute.

Rail traffic accounts for almost 10 percent of the 4.3 billion tonnes of freight shipped across Germany every year, with especially carmakers and steel companies relying on trains to transport goods from factories to distributors.

Monday's strike is due to kick off at 6 p.m. (1700 BST). The union said it had picked the time in order to avoid disrupting travel for weekend commuters who return to their place of work on Monday mornings.

The union said later on Monday the strike would hit commuter trains, regional and long-distance trains across the whole country.

GDL - which represents about 37,000 train drivers, conductors and shunters - is seeking a pay increase of 5 percent and a shortening of their workweek to 37 hours from 39.

Deutsche Bahn said it had made a new offer to GDL earlier on Monday and demanded that the union call off the strike.

On Friday, pilots at Germanwings, the budget carrier of flagship German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), staged a six-hour strike in a dispute over pensions, disrupting domestic travel.

Further industrial action may be looming at Lufthansa, but rail union GDL and pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) have said they will coordinate to avoid a total shutdown of domestic transportation routes.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Markus Wacket; Editing by Noah Barkin and Susan Thomas

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