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Germany

Rail Strikes Disrupt Train Services in Germany

Workers at German national rail provider Deutsche Bahn staged a string of warning strikes early on Thursday, disrupting train services in several cities, according to trade unions.

A man waits with his luggage on a rail platform

The strikes caused train disruptions in several German cities

Trade unions Transnet and GDBA said most of the strikes, organized to raise pressure on state-run Deutsche Bahn in ongoing pay negotiations, were concentrated in and near Cologne in western Germany and the state of Bavaria in the south.

The unions said more than 200 rail personnel in Munich and Nuremberg stopped work while around 150 laid down their tools in Cologne, disrupting train services on both regional and long-haul stretches.

According to Deutsche Bahn, the strikes delayed services between Cologne and Dusseldorf. But the company said it would try to soften the strikes' impact by pressing additional workers into service. Deutsche Bahn began alerting passengers on Wednesday to a disruption of services.

In Hamburg, employees in the customer-service department stopped work for two hours, causing minor disruptions.

The strikes were also expected to be expanded to the cities of Bremen, Saalfeld, Magdeburg and the capital Berlin.

Strikes meant as a "warning signal"

The unions said the strikes weren't meant to cripple services but rather serve as a "warning signal."

The two unions representing 130,000 railway staff are demanding a 10-percent pay increase and restrictions on night and weekend work.

Deutsche Bahn has proposed a 1 percent pay raise, but has promised to improve the offer.

Business and employer representatives however urged the unions to avoid organizing strikes at a time when Germany is in the grip of recession.

"Having absurd labor fights in economically tough times is irresponsible," Dieter Hundt, president of the German Employers Federation, told newspaper Bild.

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