Source AP ©

2 German rail unions guarantee to come out of wage recession

Two German rail unions guaranteed that wages will rise by at least 10 percent by 2010.

The agreement, which officials said would cover some 150,000 railway employees, is part of wider plans for a revised pay structure under which the work force would be divided into six segments, each with its own pay agreement.

Thursday's agreement did not involve a third union, GDL, which represents only train drivers and is engaged in a bitter wage dispute of its own with Deutsche Bahn.

The promised increase would include a 4.5 percent wage raise agreed on in July between Deutsche Bahn and the two unions. Transnet and GDBA members staged brief warning walkouts ahead of that agreement.

However, GDL rejected the 4.5 percent pay hike obtained by the rival unions and has since pursued its own campaign for a separate wage agreement and a heftier pay increase.

It has staged several strikes recently to press its point, and has threatened more if talks planned for Monday with Deutsche Bahn fail.

Transnet, GDBA and Deutsche Bahn officials said they hoped GDL would see Thursday's agreement as a route to the separate agreement for drivers that it has demanded.

Transnet chairman Norbert Hansen suggested that, under the new structure, GDL could negotiate for train drivers.

Hansen said that, for most railway employees, it would result in raises by 2010 of between 10 and 14 percent.