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Railway Strike

DW staff (tt)September 29, 2006

In the midst of a privatization dispute with the government, German rail workers walked off their jobs on Friday morning, causing transportation delays in three states.

A man looking at a schedule of delayed trains at a train station.
Rail workers unions could not agree with Deutsche Bahn about job cutsImage: AP

According to the Transnet and GDBA labor union officials, around 1,700 rail workers in Germany joined the warning strike on Friday morning more than two weeks after negotiations with the state-owned railway company Deutsche Bahn over job security ended without compromise.

"We hoped until the last moment for a negotiable offer from the employer," said Transnet chief Norbert Hansen and GDBA president Klaus-Dieter Hommel in a statement.

Three German states -- North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate -- were affected with commuter and regional train service delayed or interrupted in several large cities, including Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund.

Job security

A train departing from a station
Deutsche Bahn is one of Germany's last major state assetsImage: AP

The Transnet and GDBA was in negotiations with Deutsche Bahn about safeguarding workers' jobs after the German government sells off up to half of the railway company for billions of euros in 2008.

But the unions broke off the negotiations on Sept. 13 after Deutsche Bahn said it couldn't guarantee the jobs through 2010 if the government decided to sell only transport operations and keep the rail network, including tracks and stations, in public hands.

Chancellor Anglea Merkel's cabinet is expected to make a decision on whether it will be selling the tracks next month.

The planned initial public offering of Deutsche Bahn will be Germany's last big privatization project.