German operator appeals to train drivers as strike enters third day affecting traffic

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German railway operator Deutsche Bahn on Thursday urged its train drivers to end their strike as it enters its third day, heavily disrupting passenger and cargo traffic across the country.

The strike, which started with freight trains on Tuesday evening and is due to end on Friday early morning, has left thousands of trains at a standstill nationwide.

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Around 20 percent to 30 percent of local and a quarter of long-distance trains were still operational on Thursday, Deutsche Bahn said.

Train driver’s union GDL announced the strike after wage talks with Deutsche Bahn management collapsed. GDL is demanding a wage increase of around 3.2 percent and a one-time coronavirus allowance of 600 euros ($700).

Deutsche Bahn said its position on pay was “quite close” to the union’s, urging it to return to the negotiation table.

“We appeal to the GDL to stop the strikes and return to a responsible solution,” Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss said on Thursday.

Rivalry between GDL and the larger EVG train workers union, which has already reached an agreement with Deutsche Bahn management last year, made negotiations for GDL more difficult, EVG head Klaus-Dieter Hommel said.

“It’s about the existence of the GDL,” Hommel told Deutschlandfunk radio on Thursday, adding that it would renegotiate the deal it had with Deutsche Bahn if GDL got a better offer.

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