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Strikes

German rail workers go on strike amid wage dispute

German rail workers have gone on strike, causing cancelations and delays around the country. The dispute stems from ongoing negotiations over wages, which the workers say are inadequate.

Strikes began early Monday morning in Germany, with a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson saying commuter lines in particular were "severely affected." Travelers in the states of Berlin, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and in the southwest of the country all faced delays.

Notably, staff at signal boxes and workshops also joined the strike, as well as some cabin crew. Freight rail was also affected.

The work stoppage ended at 8:00 a.m. local time, and no further strikes are planned.

"This is now over nationwide," said a spokesperson for the Railway and Transport Worker's Union (EVG), which represents about 130,000 Deutsche Bahn employees. The union hoped to send a "signal" with Monday's work stoppage, the spokesperson added.

The EVG announced the strike after negotiations with the company at the end of February failed to deliver the 6.5 percent raise the union had demanded. 

"Our colleagues are livid about the employer's inadequate offer," EVG Deputy Chairwoman Regina Rusch-Ziemba said in a statement.

In a statement posted on its website, the German rail company reacted with astonishment to the work stoppage, calling the decision "disproportionate" to the "sensible offer." The deal included a raise of 2.4 percent this year, followed by a 2 percent wage increase in 2014 and a one time payment of 400 euros. Deutsche Bahn also offered to increase retirement pensions by 1 percentage point.

Deutsche Bahn and the EVG are scheduled to meet for negotiations later on Monday in Berlin.

dr,kms/hc  (Reuters, dpa, AFP)