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Germany

Train drivers' strike hits passenger services in Germany

German commuters faced major delays Thursday morning as a train drivers' union continued its dispute over pay and conditions. Only a skeleton service remained on the tracks. More strikes could be on the way.

An ICE train approaches, as the sun sets behind it

Unlucky morning commuters faced yet another strike

The German train drivers' strike widened from goods trains to passenger services in the early hours of Thursday morning, causing major delays and disruptions to commuter services.

The six-hour strike against passenger services started at 4 a.m. after goods trains largely ground to a halt on Wednesday evening. The strike ended later in the morning, but significant delays were expected to last throughout the day.

"Our colleagues are joining this labor battle across the country and in every area," the deputy chairman of the GDL union, Norbert Quitter, said as the strike began.

GDL represents 75 percent of Germany's 26,000 train drivers, and is campaigning for better pay and working conditions for its members.

Strikes intended as a warning

The main German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, criticized GDL's tactics, but also said it had been prepared for the strike and would try its best to limit the difficulties and delays faced by commuters.

The GDL union says these strikes are intended as a warning. On Monday, 90 percent of its members voted in favor of going on strike indefinitely if necessary.

The union is seeking increased pay, as well as a unified pay structure for train drivers across Germany. Currently most private railway companies pay less than the market leader, state-owned Deutsche Bahn.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Michael Lawton

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