Source AP ©

German train drivers to go on striking against national railway

A union of German train drivers will continue strike campaign against the national railway.

The GDL union, which is engaged in a bitter pay dispute with railway operator Deutsche Bahn AG, had been limited to hitting regional and commuter trains with occasional walkouts since the company secured a court ruling restricting strikes last month.

The union said that prevented it from exerting sufficient economic pressure on Deutsche Bahn, and appealed to a labor court in the eastern city of Chemnitz.

GDL chairman Manfred Schell welcomed Friday's ruling as an "extensive victory." He said the union had not yet decided on its next move, although union officials have suggested recently that it likely would focus on freight trains first.

Deutsche Bahn's chief personnel officer, Margret Suckale, said the company was considering whether to appeal to Germany's highest court.

In announcing the decision, Judge Werner Leschinger said that the constitutionally protected right to strike could not be restricted, and that an expansion of the strikes was not disproportionate.

GDL hopes to pressure Deutsche Bahn into acceding to a cut in the working week by one hour to 40 hours, and a pay increase of up to 31 percent for its members.

It also is insisting that train drivers be given a separate pay deal, rather than being included in a one-size-fits-all deal that includes other railway workers. Suckale rejected that demand anew on Friday.

GDL has rejected a 4.5 percent raise that Deutsche Bahn agreed to in talks with two rival unions that represent a broader range of railway workers.

Deutsche Bahn carries 5 million passengers daily.