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Germany: 50-hour Deutsche Bahn rail strike called off

May 13, 2023

The EVG union and Deutsche Bahn have said that they've reached an agreement ahead of a planned 50-hour strike. Deutsche Bahn has said the services may still be disrupted.

A deserted railway station in Germany
The rail strike announced by the trade union EVG is going to severely impact traffic on Monday and Tuesday next weekImage: Jochen Eckel/IMAGO

The 50-hour strike that had been called to start on Sunday evening across Germany's rail network has been averted after the union and rail operator Deutsche Bahn came to a compromise.

A labor court in Frankfurt confirmed that had put forward a settlement proposal that both the rail and transport workers' trade union, the EVG, and Deutsche Bahn agreed to.

"In the interest of the railway company, its customers and industry, we did everything to aver this strike, and successfully," Deutsche Bahn's head of personnel Martin Seiler said. "Of course, both sides are always part of such a compromise," he added.

Despite the cancelation of the strike, Deutsche Bahn said that there will still be delays for regional and long-distance trains as the company reschedules the program for around 50,000 train services that had been canceled.

Deutsche Bahn, unions pledge to keep talking

The planned industrial which was announced by EVG, had been expected to severely impact train traffic on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Deutsche Bahn had said it was going cancel all long-distance trains and most regional services during the strike.

Germany's national rail operator Deutsche Bahn had earlier in the day asked for an urgent court order to block the strike. The rail operator had said legal action was necessary to stop the strike "in the interest of the customers."

Seiler defended the action, saying "The appeal to the labor court was worth it for everyone," after the union agreed to call off the strike.

As part of the agreement, both sides said they will return to negotiations in the hope of achieving a speedy conclusion, Deutsche Bahn said in a statement. 

Why did EVG call for a strike?

The EVG has been negotiating new collective agreements with 50 railway companies for 230,000 employees, 180,000 of whom work for German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

According to the EVG, the strike would have affected Deutsche Bahn and other transport companies.

"The patience of our members is now really exhausted," EVG wage negotiator Cosima Ingenschay said on Thursday. "We are forced to strike for 50 hours to show how serious the situation is."

Railway workers have carried out several rounds of strikes over the previous months, including actions called by major union Verdi, as soaring inflation drives up the cost of living.

Millions impacted by Germany's largest strike in decades

One in four don't understand the strike

 A survey report published on Saturday showed that one out of four people in Germany has "no understanding at all" about the upcoming 50-hour rail strike.

A total of 1,010 people took part in the polls conducted by the polling company YouGov, for the German press agency, DPA.

Only 19% of the people claimed that they completely understood the industrial action.

While 26% of people admitted that they were "rather sympathetic" to the decision of holding a rail strike in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute, the other 26% of people said that they were "rather unsympathetic" to the action.

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ab, mf/dj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)