Trains, planes and public transport networks ground to a halt across much of Germany on Monday in a day of strike over wages, an effort by unions to win raises for their members to offset inflation.
He 24-hour strike, one of the biggest in decadesalso affected the transport of goods in trains and ships, while port and waterway workers joined the strikes.
Many workers who usually use public transport chose to travel by car, causing congestion on roads, while those who could work from home.
Unions demand a rise of at least 10.5% in wages and they have rejected offers from employers to raise 5% in two stages in addition to one-off payments.
High inflation in other parts of the world has hit many workers hard, said Ulrich Silberbach of the Civil Service Federation.
“We have registered decreases in real wages and they must be compensated”he told reporters in Berlin. Some members of his union in large cities have had to apply for state aid to pay their rent, he added.
Silberbach said he hoped employers would increase their offer in the next round of talks, or unions would have to consider an indefinite strike.
His colleague Martin Burkert, from the EVG railway union, lamented that the salary of the workers is only a fraction of what some managers earn.
But rail operator Deutsche Bahn said the unions’ demands were exaggerated and warned that millions of passengers would be affected.
“Thousands of companies that normally send or receive their goods by rail will also suffer,” the Deutsche Bahn spokesman said. “The environment and the climate will also suffer in the end. The winners today are the oil companies.”
Train tickets that could not be used on Monday would remain valid and travelers should check the company’s website for up-to-date information, he said.
They have scheduled three days of negotiations between the two parties. Home Secretary Nancy Faeser, who is representing the federal government in the negotiations, said her side would engage in the talks in a “tough, but also fair and constructive” way.
Faeser said he was confident that a good solution could be reached.
Strikes are commonplace in Germany and often end with compromise agreements between unions and employers.
The stoppages had already caused problems and delays on Sunday, when many travelers tried to reach their destinations in advance.
(with information from AP)
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