German Raiil Strike Intensifies

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Nov 13th, 2007, 03:44 PM
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German Raiil Strike Intensifies

The latest press release I have read indicates that the locomotive drivers are going to strike the freight trains, the local trains, and the international trains for several hours.

According to the news article I quote below, the drivers will strike freight trains beginning at noon on Wednesday and ending at 2AM Saturday.

The passenger trains, local and trans border, will be out of action from 2 AM Thursday until 2 AM Saturday.

The GDL leader, Schell, says that without a new, valid offer from the management of Die Deutsche Bahn there is a chance of an unlimited strike. (unbefristeten)

Die Bahn spokesman replied by saying that blackmail will not work.

In my opinion, both the strike threats and the "we will not be coerced" responses of Die Bahn leadership have become old stuff.
When we will hear something new and different is to me unknown.

Anbody got any insights into what will have to happen to break the deadlock? Both sides seem stuck in concrete when it comes to moving to even a slightly new position.

For those of you who read German, here is the main text:

Frankfurt am Main. Der Deutschen Bahn steht der groesste Streik in
ihrer Geschichte bevor. Ab Mittwoch zwoelf Uhr will die
Lokfuehrergewerkschaft GDL den Gueterverkehr lahmlegen. Ab
Donnerstagfrueh zwei Uhr wollen die Lokfuehrer dann auch im gesamten
Personenverkehr in den Ausstand treten. Der Arbeitskampf wird nach den Worten des Gewerkschaftsvorsitzenden Schell fuer alle drei Transportbereiche bis Samstagfrueh zwei Uhr dauern. Zur Begruendung sagte Schell, es liege noch immer kein verhandlungsfaehiges Angebot der Bahn vor. Sollte das so bleiben, koennte es einen unbefristeten Streik geben. Der Bahn-Vorstand erklaerte dazu, man lasse sich nicht von einer kleinen Gruppe erpressen.
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Nov 14th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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I suppose I need everything spelled out to make sure--will no trains then be running?

I'm supposed to travel to Bacharach on Friday and to Rothenburg o.d. Tauber on Sunday--will I be able to make Bacharach training from Paris (assuming I can even make it there with the French strikes) and does anyone think that the strikes will last past Saturday?

I know it's all conjecture, but I'm planning on travelling by rail throughout the region starting Friday.

Thanks!
Adam
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Nov 14th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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>will no trains then be running?

About 2/3 of the long distance traisn and 1/2 of local traisn are expected to be running. The strike schedules are already loaded into www.bahn.de schedule planner. Not all drivers are GDL members. Some (older ones) have the old "Beamte" status (civil servants?) which prohibits them from striking.

>does anyone think that the strikes will last past Saturday?

It will stop in the night from friday to saturday (2:00). Whether there will be more strikes next week - nobody knows yet.
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Nov 15th, 2007, 06:03 PM
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Apparently the strike is not only about pay rises, but also the privatisation of the whole system.On the German news, shown in Australia this morning, a British woman affected by the strike, wholeheartedly agreed with the strikers - don't let them do to German Rail what they did to British Rail, she said!
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Nov 15th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Will this strike affect the U-bahn and S-bahn in Berlin???

Thingorjus will be in Berlin on December 19.
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Nov 15th, 2007, 06:22 PM
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Thin, taxis in Berlin are fairly cheap and you can use the kurzstrecke rate that's even cheaper for short distances. You just have to tell the driver as soon as you get in the taxis that you want the kurzstrecke rate.
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Nov 15th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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The privatisation plans have come to a halt (Just like the trains ). On their party convention last week, SPD party delegates pushed forward the alternative of selling "Volksaktien" ("peoples stock"). Those should have limited voting power. Since the convention passed this proposal, the coalition partner CDU won't have a chance to go forward with privatisation alone. They were willing to dismatle the whole system and selling everything in small pieces (Knowing how unpopular this would be, they never confessed to it, claiming only about half would be sold).
Quite a few politicians were working hard to bring down DB and promote the auto industry. Minister Wissmann (until 1998) just being one of them imho. Today he's the president of the VDA, the association of the automobile industy. Go figure yourself.
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Nov 16th, 2007, 07:21 AM
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I will state again, as in another message, that the DB is one major reason that I selected Germany for my vacation travel the last two years and hopefully this coming year as well.

We have looked at going to England, but the mass transit system looks almost as bad as the USA's. There are big gaps in the network. Don't even think about learning in advance what you would pay for a ticket on the spot.

My meager travel dollars vote to keep DB public, not private. Once you have lost your mass transit infrastructure, it would be hard to get it back when oil costs go through the roof.

Regards, Gary
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Nov 16th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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thin, according to this:

http://www.db.de/site/bahn/en/travel...ke/strike.html

S-Bahn service in Berlin is down to 30 percent of normal. Those trains are gonna be crowded! But I don't think you can count on taxis, because the queues will be enormous.
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Nov 16th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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>Will this strike affect the U-bahn and S-bahn in Berlin???

>Thingorjus will be in Berlin on December 19.


Thingorjus will just have to rely on U-Bahn, trams and buses (and of course taxis) since S-Bahn is run by DB. There is hardly any place in Berlin that you cannot reach without S-Bahn (but maybe with a few detours).
OTOH I am pretty sure that the stuation will be long resoved before late December. It is pretty unbearable as it is and somebody will give in soon.
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Nov 16th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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I don't quite get it, maybe someone can explain more to me? Is the GDL strike really not self serving but more of an excuse to halt the DB privatization? Now I like them better if their ulterior motive is more to halt privatization. Can we really hold that as the truth? I'm guessing that the logic here is higher salaries will make the DB less attractive to the Heuschrecken?

As a government institution, the DB is doing well with an annual profit of 2 million euro, so there's no need to privatize except for greed? My concern as a consumer would be that higher salaries will translate to higher ticket prices whether it's publicly or privately owned unless there is a government mandated price regulation. It seems that the DB has the free market total freedom to set its ticket prices and their only competition are the mushrooming low price airlines and cargo trucking companies. What's the missing piece? Can we assume that most citizens support the GDL but the CDU/CSU dominated government secretly supports Mehdorn/DB?

I'm going further on a limb here with a simplistic assumption that the privatization is supported more by the pro-business CDU/CSU parties which have more support in the old Bundeslaendern, that's why the strike is occuring predominantly in the new Bundeslaendern. I have no idea whether the strike is just as strong in the Ruhr area, Bavaria and Schwabia or not. Anyone cares to elaborate to foreign travellers ?
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Nov 16th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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Well, of course it is "self serving". They want/need nore money.

Otoh, They know things won't get any better, should DB be privatised. Today DB are havily subsidsed by the state.
Already in 2004, the government asked Morgan Stanley for a report on what would be the needed changes in Bahn infrastructure, should it be privatised. They came up with proposals to close tracks of up to 14.000km
On German discussion forums too, there's still lage support for the train drivers!
Only very few people still trust the government, to do what they claim.

http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,507334,00.html
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Nov 16th, 2007, 07:38 PM
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Logos,thanks for the Spiegel article. I thought I read about last year's DB surplus in one of the DB strike Fodor threads, I was impressed but maybe I misread it. Now 200 million deficit is more like it, which Mehdorn argues will climb to over 500 million euro deficit if DB doesn't get privatized. Makes me wonder if Germany is now too poor to subsidize such a small deficit? Any chance that the improving economy/government cash flow will soften the pressure to reduce such deficits ?
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Nov 16th, 2007, 08:48 PM
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The economy is looking good, we're almost living in boom times right now. All the surrounding countries have had a higher inflation rate than Germany during the last few years. They can't compete with our prices and production any longer. (And can't devalue their currencies anymore ) Even the new "eastern EU countries" are not percieved as an economic threat any longer. Wages are very competitive (far too low for qualified work!!) The welfare sytem has been changed dramatically forcing poor people to work for little money. Tax revenues have increased dramatically, but they're used to stop the deficit from increasing. The government aims to stop making new debts in the following 3 years and they will succed. DB deficits aren't such a problem. I believe it's just a pretext to push through a political agenda of privatisation. One thing were large amouts of money are still wasted right now are subsidies for coal mining operations. If they just close all the mines that are still left now and give the miners a good pension for the rest of their life, it would be far cheaper than subsidising the whole operation. But still they won't do it. It's all about politics...

It's interesting, that seen from the outside, many foreign people aren't aware of the drastic changes that happened over here. Just 10 years ago a "low" dollar like today would be catastrophic, today the € has taken most of the pressure away. Someone's always buying "our" stuff...

But it's also understandable that workers finally want to participate from the boom through higher wages. Let them go on strike, just please don't stike next week when I'm on my way to the airport ;-)
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Nov 16th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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A very interesting thread on it from "the German" perspective.

http://www.telefon-treff.de/showthre...hreadid=317518
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Nov 16th, 2007, 11:39 PM
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Thanks for the Teltreff link, I originaly had the same reaction to the 31% salary increase demand not knowing the background situation. It's a blessing that they don't strike as drastically as in France.

<< we're almost living in boom times right now>>
I imagine so in Bavaria and other old Bundeslaender, but I'm not sure it's the same in the new Laender like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Some reality shows on satelite German TV like Mein Neues Leben or We are Family inadvertantly broadcast a false impression of Germany. They often focus on many Harz IV receivers or individuals who have completely given up on trying to make a living in Germany and thus moved abroad to try to get a better living wage (which may be true for some low skill laborers as confirmed by your recap on very low wages in Germany). I did hear that in 2007 many employees have the option to choose which company/position they want to work in. You certainly have the Euro miracle tied to a healthy market with euro buying power just beyond the borders. I feel poorer every year I travel to Europe since 2002.
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Nov 17th, 2007, 01:18 AM
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>German TV
Imho, there are two groups of people that leave the country looking for a job.

One group are the Hartz IV people, that are unable to find a job that they can live on in Germany. (Not that there's a problem finding one, "just" those jobs don't pay enough.

The other group are well educated, successfull people that would be hired in an instant making good money, but realize, they could earn a lot more abroad. Those people don't go on TV shows.

And then, there's the everyday bureaucracy that drives people crazy. i.e. Freelancers like me have to report their income monthly to the Finanzamt plus a zillion other regulations that don't make sense...
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Nov 17th, 2007, 08:38 AM
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I can understand your frustration because I have to report my income and deposit my taxes every 3 months in the US, I can't imagine doing it every month. Not only that, I have to project the annual, with a 10% penalty slap if I underestimate it. I do expect Germany to have even more rigorous laws & bureaucracy after learning how complicated your tax law is. I remember that there was a campaign to simplify the tax laws a couple years ago. Was it because Merkel's uni professor failed to become her financial minister?
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Nov 17th, 2007, 09:33 AM
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>campaign to simplify the tax laws
It resulted in a new form "EÜR". "All" the other ideas were "disregarded". The "EÜR" additional form is needed to have even better control of the freelancer. Before, he just used a piece of paper...

Still, more than half of this planets tax literature is written in German.
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Nov 17th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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>I imagine so in Bavaria and other old Bundeslaender, but I'm not sure it's the same in the new Laender like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is absolutely on the losing end, but even Sachsen and - slightly less - Thüringen seem to be on the best way to recovery. MecPom has never been economically successful anyway. They don't have any industry (and never had), no major transportation links pass through it, and tourism (along the coast and in the lakes district) is the only money inflow.
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