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German train drivers go on strike today

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Rail travel in Germany to be severely disrupted

Rail travel in Germany will be disrupted today as train drivers’ union GDL calls for a new strike, hitting state-owned rail operator Deutsche Bahn. The strike is scheduled to hit passengers between 14:00 today and 04:00 on Thursday. It is the fourth time drivers have walked off the job this year.

Today’s strike, the first to be held during the day, could paralyse travel in Germany, especially on commuter lines at peak traffic hours.

Other rail employees including attendants and service personnel are also likely to join the strike, which is in support of a demand for 5% higher wages and a cut in working hours from 39 to 37 hours a week. The union also wants collective bargaining negotiations for rail workers represented by rival unions.

Deutsche Bahn says it has “no understanding whatsoever” for today’s “brazen” walkout and is calling on the union to return to the negotiating table. Union boss Claus Weselsky describes the rail operator’s attitude as “unbelievably arrogant” for refusing to talk about the details of an agreement and waiting instead for the government to pass legislation reducing the rights of smaller unions.

Reuters, AFP, dpa

[pictured: One of Germany’s ICE 3 high-speed trains]

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