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Germany

Initial GDL strike targets Deutsche Bahn freight

Workers represented by the German train drivers' union have gone on strike in a dispute over salaries. Talks between the national railway operator and the unions that represent its employees collapsed in August.

The nationwide strike was to take place between 6 and 9 p.m. (1600-1900 UTC) on Monday, the GDL union announced in a statement. The strikes will mainly affect freight operations, according to the GDL, which represents 80 percent of Deutsche Bahn's train drivers and 30 percent of all other staff.

On Monday, the union announced that it had called the strike as part of its efforts to secure a 5 percent raise for workers. "With this strike time, the GDL takes into account the many weekend travelers who use the train on the first day of the workweek," the union announced in its statement. "The first strike will mostly affect freight rather than passengers," the GDL announced.

'Blockade mentality'

GDL boss Claus Weselsky said the strike had become necessary owing to the "blockade mentality" of the Deutsche Bahn and the failure to make progress at the negotiating table. Last week, the GDL coordinated with a group of pilots represented by the Lufthansa union Cockpit so that a Germanwings strike would not coincide with the rail drivers' and bring transit in the country to a standstill.

Negotiations between the GDL and Deutsche Bahn are expected to continue. "We are willing to talk," DB human resources boss Ulrich Weber told Spiegel magazine. For their part, GDL representatives said in the statement that Deutsche Bahn had left the union "no other choice but to increase the pressure through a labor action."

mkg/slk (AFP, dpa)

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