German rail workers call off 50-hour Deutsche Bahn strike after reaching agreement
Germany has narrowly avoided another major transport strike.
The 50-hour walkout planned for Sunday through Tuesday was suspended after German transport union EVG reached an agreement with rail operator Deutsche Bahn.
In late March and April, flights, trains and buses were cancelled when a 'megastrike' saw transport workers walk out over pay.
This week's strike was originally planned to start at 10 pm on Sunday 14 May and run until midnight on Tuesday evening.
Delays are still expected for regional and long-distance trains as Deutsche Bahn reschedules around 50,000 services that had been cancelled, according to German state broadcaster DW.
The strike will still be valid for the other 49 transport companies represented by EVG.
Why was the German train strike cancelled?
On Friday evening, Deutsche Bahn called for an emergency court order to block the strike in order to maintain services for customers.
On Saturday, EVG agreed to call off the strike and return to negotiations with the rail operator.
The warning strike was expected to bring much of Germany’s rail network to a standstill.
EVG represents around 230,000 rail and bus workers from 50 companies, including Deutsche Bahn.
If the strike had gone ahead, all of Deutsche Bahn's long-distance and most regional trains would have been cancelled, including ICE and IC services. The S-Bahn would have also been affected.
City operators including Berlin’s BVG and Munich’s MVV are not EVG members. Local transport, including U-Bahns and trams therefore remain unaffected.
Deutsche Bahn's head of personnel Martin Seiler condemned the planned strike as “crazy…baseless and totally excessive”, according to DW.
Rail cargo could still be hit by the strike, causing cross-border delays across Europe.
So-called ‘warning strikes’ do not require union members to vote for them before they go ahead.
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Why are Germany’s transport workers striking?
EVG is demanding higher pay for its members to combat rising inflation rates.
Deutsche Bahn had not met the union’s call for a 12 per cent pay increase, with a minimum increase of €650 per month.
Prior to the planned strike, the train operator had offered a raise of around 10 per cent for low and middle-earners or 8 per cent for high earners, phased in over time, as well as a one off payment of €2,850 for all workers, DW reports.
The union's negotiator Cosima Ingenschay said this offer needed to be “improved considerably”.
EVG says the rail operator told the labour court in Frankfurt on Saturday that it would fulfil its minimum wage requests.
The planned walkout came against a backdrop of strong social mobilisation in Germany. Strikes over wages have multiplied since the beginning of the year, from schools to hospitals and including the Post Office workers.
Further negotiations between EVG and Deutsche Bahn are now taking place.
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What can you do if your train is cancelled?
In certain cases, passengers may be entitled to up to €80 in compensation - whether for food, new tickets or accommodation - from Deutsche Bahn.
Make sure you keep receipts for any unexpected costs.