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Germany: Rail strike ends after 20 hours

Germany's GDL union has ended its 20-hour strike

Germany's GDL union has ended its 20-hour strike

Germany's GDL train drivers union on Thursday ended a 20-hour strike.

The strike had started at 10 p.m. local time (2100 UTC) and ended on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

The action led to mass train cancellations across the country, with only 20% of scheduled services operating on Thursday.

Disruptions are expected to continue through Thursday night.

A spokesperson for the Deutsche Bahn rail service said that services will be nearly completely restored on Friday.

"We expect to offer an almost complete range of trains again tomorrow," Deutsche Bahn spokesperson Achim Stauß told the Reuters news agency.

GDL head Claus Weselsky did not rule out a new warning strike in comments to the German Press Agency (dpa).

What is the union demanding?

The collective agreements negotiated with the GDL will apply to 10,000 employees at Deutsche Bahn. It is the smaller of the two unions representing railway workers, with EVG already having negotiated new agreements for some 180,000 employees earlier this year.

This is the GDL's first strike in the current wage dispute. The union is demanding an increase of €555 (€602) per month and an inflation compensation bonus for a period of 12 months.

It is also demanding a reduction in working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours per week with full pay compensation. Deutsche Bahn has argued that this would not be feasible.

The next round of negotiations had been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, but Deutsche Bahn pulled out of the talks after the warning strike was announced.

"Either you go on strike or you negotiate. You can't do both at the same time," Deutsche Bahn's Chief Human Resources Officer, Martin Seiler, said.

"Anyone who breaks these agreements in this form and calls for strikes at short notice ... cannot expect us to continue sitting at the negotiating table," he said.

Weselsky argued that a brief warning strike during ongoing negotiations is a "normal process."

"This is a completely normal process in collective bargaining when employees realize that the other side needs tutoring," he said.

The next meeting is scheduled for the end of next week.

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​​​​​sdi/wmr (dpa, Reuters)