German Public Transport shut down to strike over workers pay

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BERLIN: Public transport in parts of Germany laid low as workers began a one-day warning strike to increase pressure on the government in an ongoing pay dispute, across multiple states. 

According to DW News, local public transport did not run as public sector strikes continued in six states. As authorities warned passengers to prepare for significantly disrupted travel due to Friday’s strike in major cities, including Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich. Likewise, climate change group Fridays for Future also announced demonstrations. 

Public sector workers reportedly laid down their tools on Friday as negotiations between the major trade union and employees were delayed. In areas affected by the strike, almost all trams, trains, and buses were scheduled to not operate throughout the day. Per reports, states including North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bremen, Saxony, Baden Württemberg, and Lower Saxony were affected.

It is worth mentioning that Germany’s second-largest trade union Verdi, is currently negotiating a pay rise by ten percent, or a minimum rise of  €500 per month (approximately USD 530) for over 2 million employees offering services as bus and tram drivers to many. According to reports, Verdi is also seeking promises of renewed talks in a year’s time. 

Unions have claimed they are protesting against the “unusually high 2022 inflation” and for the rights of the workers who are severely underpaid. However, the last round of talks which was initiated in January ended “without progress“.

Ricarda Lang, co-leader of the Green Party has voiced support for the protesting workers arguing their need for better wages. In an interview with the online portal web.de, Lang said, “They need good wages and better working conditions”. Likewise, Yasmin Fahimi, the secretary-general of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) has said that it is “of course complete nonsense” to say that unions have lost their sense of perspective.

Fahimi made the remarks during an appearance in the podcast by Kolner Stadt-Anzeiger and the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland group of newspapers. She added, “In every crisis we hear over and over these demands for restraint, restraint, restraint — for collective responsibility” yet the rich continue to get richer while the workforce ends up paying for the issues. Stressing the need for the protest, Fahimi said the strikes aim to ensure no workers “fall behind”. 

Addressing the matter of the Fridays for Future protest, she said the climate activist group shares in the Union’s interests in a “massive expansion of local public transport”. 

On Friday, there were reports of activists blocking the roads across the country. The police advised motorists to avoid the areas if possible saying, “Currently people are blocking traffic on the Adenauerallee, heading towards Bonn”. They further confirmed that people had “attached themselves” to the roads. 

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