Source AP ©

Union of German train drivers tries to resolve pay disputes

A German train drivers' union is going to hold new talks with the national railway operator next week in their pay dispute.

The GDL union's chairman, Manfred Schell, said the union would refrain from staging strikes before holding talks next Monday with railway operator Deutsche Bahn AG.

In a dispute that has simmered for months, GDL has rejected a 4.5-percent raise to which Deutsche Bahn agreed with two rival unions that represent a broader range of railway workers. It has been insisting on a deal independent of other railway workers and has called for a "double-digit" raise for drivers.

Following a series of limited strikes - including a 62-hour stoppage in freight and passenger traffic earlier this month - the union had threatened an open-ended strike unless it received a new offer.

Both sides have been under pressure from politicians and German industry to solve their dispute amid fears that more strikes could hurt the economy.

Deutsche Bahn made an offer last week which the company said amounted to a pay rise of 8 percent, which drivers could increase to 13 percent by working voluntary extra hours.

It also said it would offer the drivers a separate pay deal from other rail workers, but within a single pay structure covering all railway employees.

GDL said in a statement that the 13 percent figure was a "deception" and argued that the offer of a separate pay deal was a "sham package."

Schell said the union would stage more strikes in the future if talks fail.

If the two sides are unable to narrow their differences, "we will have no choice but to take industrial action," he said.

Deutsche Bahn's chief personnel officer, Margret Suckale, welcomed the union's response and agreed to hold talks on Monday.

"I am sure we can find the compromise that all of Germany wants," she said.