German railways disrupted by strike over pay inequality

A deserted railway line near Augsburg, southern Germany, 26 October
Image caption Some sections of track were deserted on Tuesday

Rail services have been disrupted in parts of western and southern Germany by a strike over pay inequality.

Unions are demanding an improved pay offer from the national rail operator Deutsche Bahn and private companies.

They say private rail companies pay up to 20% less for the same work and are demanding wages based on a single contract for the industry.

Services were affected in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony, unions said.

Sector-wide contracts are the norm in Germany but negotiations between the operators and the unions had reached an impasse.

"It cannot be allowed for colleagues to receive up to 20% less pay for the same work, especially when the private operators use this type of wage dumping as a competitive edge to win contracts," the unions said in a statement quoted by the Reuters news agency.

Railway workers won a 4.5% pay increase and improved working hours in 2009 after a series of strikes.

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