“There’s pressure on the boiler”
Super strike day hits millions of commuters and travelers
03/27/2023 12:22 p.m
Trains and buses remain in the depots in many places, aircraft on the ground. The nationwide warning strike has largely paralyzed traffic, but there is no sign of an agreement between employers and unions in the recently started round of negotiations.
Traffic with trains, buses and planes in Germany largely came to a standstill on Monday. A major warning strike by the EVG railway union and Verdi has been going on since midnight. Millions of commuters and travelers as well as large parts of freight transport are affected by the 24-hour industrial dispute. Larger traffic jams in addition to the usual obstructions in rush-hour traffic were only occasionally reported by the police in the morning. There was talk of slow traffic, but without major restrictions as a result of the major strike.
The ADAC reported significantly more traffic and obstructions on the motorways, but there was no chaos in the morning. Traffic is slowing down around the conurbations, “but we don’t see a collapse or a huge chaos,” said a spokeswoman. From her point of view, the early announcement and the reporting may have caused many people to prepare for the warning strike: “Those who can have stayed in the home office.”
On the rail, long-distance traffic is complete on Monday and regional traffic is initially mostly stopped. Almost all German airports are on strike. Waterways and ports as well as the motorway company are also affected. Public transport is also on strike in seven federal states. With the all-day warning strikes, the Verdi union and the railway and transport union (EVG) want to increase the pressure in their collective bargaining.
Difficult negotiations started
Parallel to the strike, trade unions and employers in the public sector met again this Monday for talks. At the EVG, further negotiations with Deutsche Bahn and other railway companies will take place later. Verdi boss Frank Werneke emphasized: “The strike day in the transport sector should once again make it unmistakably clear to employers that the employees clearly support our demands.”
However, the negotiations are proving difficult. An agreement is not in the offing. The trade unions would have to meet the employers’ high demands, said Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser. The President of the Association of Municipal Employers’ Associations, Karin Welge, announced that the employers would initially not submit a new offer. Werneke criticized the tariff period of 27 months as “entirely unacceptable”.
Welge criticized that the collective bargaining partners had already agreed last year to come together in three rounds of negotiations. “That’s why the massiveness of the strikes before the third round of negotiations is clearly surprising,” Welge said on radio station Bayern 2. At the moment, she’s assuming that a deal will be reached. The head of the civil servants’ association dbb, Ulrich Silberbach, warned against an expansion of the labor disputes. Deutsche Bahn spoke of an “excessive strike”. The winners of the day are the mineral oil companies.
Accordingly, Deutsche Bahn wants EVG to quickly return to the negotiating table. “It is very strange that they are on strike today and are only ready to negotiate with us again in five weeks,” said Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss.
Cologne/Bonn Airport completely closed
The EVG strikes the long-distance, regional and S-Bahn traffic. Long-distance traffic has been discontinued, most of regional traffic at least since the start of the strike. According to Deutsche Bahn, whether individual lines will be included in regional traffic in the afternoon depends on the course of the strike. Effects should also be felt on Tuesday. Private railways that were not on strike were also affected because employees in the DB Netz signal boxes went on strike.
According to the airport association ADV, 380,000 business and private travelers have to stay on the ground. There was no regular passenger service at the largest airport in Frankfurt; around 1,170 take-offs and landings with around 160,000 passengers were originally planned for Monday. In Munich, 785 flights should be canceled. At Cologne/Bonn Airport, Verdi said: “Everything is sealed here.” At least three quarters of take-offs and landings should be canceled there. According to the plan, flights were also canceled in Düsseldorf. In Hamburg, all 147 planned departures were canceled or took off without passengers. A much slimmed-down flight plan was online for Hanover. No planes should take off in Bremen at all. The capital’s airport BER was not included in the warning strike. But since almost all other airports are on strike, all domestic German flights have been cancelled. All domestic German flights have also been canceled in Leipzig/Halle and Dresden.
Local transport is again on strike in the federal states that are directly linked to the collective agreement for the public sector. These are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony. There is also a strike in Bavaria, where a collective agreement for local transport is being negotiated.
There are several collective bargaining conflicts: Verdi and the civil servants’ association dbb want to resume negotiations for 2.5 million employees with the federal government and the municipalities in Potsdam today. Before the third round, both sides were still far apart. At the EVG, there are further talks with various railway companies from the middle of the week. Negotiations with Deutsche Bahn should only continue after Easter. Public sector employees at airports are involved, but there are also local negotiations for ground handling services and nationwide talks for aviation security.
No more “warm words”.
Werneke called on employers to make concessions in the collective bargaining dispute about the public service. “All, really all members that we called for industrial action today are taking part in this strike,” said Werneke at the start of the third round of negotiations in Potsdam today. “It’s just pressure on the cauldron because workers are tired of being fobbed off with warm words every day while working conditions are getting worse and there are many vacancies.”
By the end of last week, more than 400,000 strikers had taken part in the warning strikes in all Verdi areas. According to Werneke, this was the largest warning strike participation in decades. In addition to public transport, Verdi also struck daycare centers, clinics, administrations and many other areas. That brings “a clear message to today’s negotiating table”: The employees find the previous offer of the employer unacceptable. Werneke said Verdi wanted to achieve a result in the round of negotiations scheduled for Wednesday. “That assumes that employers move.”