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Germany’s rail strikes, which have been causing significant disruptions to train travel, are set to come to an end as the train drivers’ union GDL reached a pay agreement with Deutsche Bahn. The strikes, which began in January and continued through March, were in response to demands for a pay increase and a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 hours per week without a pay cut. Despite initial offers from DB, negotiations stalled, leading to further strikes that nearly paralyzed the country’s rail network.

Following successful negotiations on Monday, DB has agreed to a deal with GDL, putting an end to the strikes in Germany. The agreement includes a gradual reduction in working hours to 35 hours per week by 2029 without a pay cut, with hours decreasing to 37 per week in 2026, 36 hours in 2027, and 35.5 hours in 2028. Employees who choose to work more hours, up to 40 per week, will receive a 2.7% hourly wage increase. Additionally, an inflation compensation bonus of €2,850 has been agreed upon, along with a wage increase of €420 per month to be implemented in two stages by 2025. The deal also includes a ‘peace obligation’, ensuring there will be no strikes until at least February 2026.

At the heart of the dispute were the demands made by GDL, which included a monthly raise of €555 for employees and a one-time payment of up to €3,000 to counter inflation. DB initially offered an 11% raise and the option for shift workers to move from a 38-hour week to a 37-hour week by 2026, with the possibility of extra pay for those who choose to remain on the current hours. However, talks broke down, leading to further strikes and disruptions in train service. Negotiations continued through February and March, with GDL agreeing to halt strikes during talks in mid-March.

The agreement reached between DB and GDL marks a significant step towards resolving the ongoing dispute and bringing an end to the strikes that have been affecting train travel in Germany. The deal not only addresses the demand for a pay increase but also includes provisions for a reduction in working hours over the coming years. DB’s HR director, Martin Seiler, described the agreement as a “groundbreaking solution that enables flexibility, participation, and transformation.” With the ‘peace obligation’ in place, the likelihood of further strikes in the near future has been eliminated, providing much-needed stability for train travellers and employees alike.

The impact of the strikes on train travel in Germany has been felt by passengers and employees alike, with disruptions continuing for several months. With the agreement reached between GDL and DB, the focus can now shift towards implementing the terms of the deal and ensuring a smooth transition to the new working conditions for train drivers. The gradual reduction in working hours and the corresponding wage increases will provide employees with greater flexibility and compensation for their work, while also ensuring the continued operation of Germany’s rail network without the threat of future strikes.

Overall, the resolution of the dispute between GDL and DB represents a positive development for all parties involved, bringing an end to the strikes and paving the way for a more stable and productive working relationship moving forward. The agreement reflects a compromise that addresses the demands of train drivers while also considering the needs and constraints of the railway company. With the ‘peace obligation’ in place, both sides can now focus on implementing the terms of the deal and working together to ensure the efficient and effective operation of Germany’s rail network.

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