Planes, trains and buses across Germany were brought to a standstill Monday as public sector transport workers walked off the job in the country’s biggest strike in decades.
The 24-hour action, which began at midnight, is part of a long-running wage dispute between public sector transport employers and hundreds of thousands of workers struggling to cope with the rising food and energy prices that have hit many European economies.
Flights were suspended at two of Germany’s largest airports, Munich and Frankfurt, while long-distance rail services were cancelled by rail operator Deutsche Bahn.
The stop-work was called by the Verdi trade union, which represents some 2.5 million public sector workers, and railway and transport union EVG, which represents around 230,000 Deutsche Bahn and bus workers.
‘Survival at stake’
“It is a matter of survival for many thousands of employees to get a considerable pay rise,” Frank Werneke, head of the Verdi union, told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The unions organised the strike to coincide with the start of a third round of deadlocked negotiations.
EVG chairman Martin Burkert told the Augsburger Allgemeine that employers had not yet made a viable offer and warned that further strikes were possible, including over the Easter holiday period.
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Verdi is demanding a 10.5 percent wage increase, a rise of at least 500 euros per month, while EVG is asking for a 12 percent raise, or at least 650 euros per month.
Deutsche Bahn on Sunday said the strike was “completely excessive, groundless and unnecessary”, with employers warning that higher wages for transport workers would result in higher fares and taxes.
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Germany, which was heavily dependent on Russia for gas before the war in Ukraine, has been hard hit by soaring inflation as it seeks out new energy sources.
Consumer prices rose more than anticipated in February – up 9.3 percent from a year earlier.