German train drivers begin week-long strike

strike Image copyright AFP

Drivers for Germany's Deutsche Bahn have begun a week-long strike, their eighth walkout in 10 months of wage negotiations and the longest in the rail operator's history.

Freight train drivers stopped work on Monday afternoon, with passenger train drivers due to follow suit at 02:00 local time on Tuesday.

Their union, GDL, wants a 5% pay rise.

It also wants to cut the working week from 39 hours to 37 and the right to represent staff such as train stewards.

"This strike is completely inappropriate and totally over the top," Deutsche Bahn said.

"The GDL union is going to cause massive harm to rail passengers, Deutsche Bahn and its employees, but also to the German economy." said the train company in a statement.

'No results'

A 43-hour strike last month led to the cancellation of two-thirds of Germany's long-distance trains.

Both the union and the company blame one another for the breakdown in talks that led to the new round of strikes.

GDL said in a statement on its website that "no results" had been achieved in the negotiations .

Deutsche Bahn employs 300,000 people, including 196,000 in Germany, and transports about 5.5 million people in Germany every day.

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