New and ever longer strikes are making rail travel less attractive, warns rail commissioner Michael Theurer. Will the strikes pose a threat to the transport transition?
The federal government’s railway commissioner, Michael Theurer (FDP), has warned of the consequences of the GDL rail strike for the transport transition. “With new and ever-longer strikes, the climate-friendly mode of transport, rail, is becoming increasingly less attractive,” said the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport to the Editorial Network Germany (RND). “Anyone who has previously considered switching from the car to the train now has another counter-argument,” he added. “It’s playing with fire.”
Theurer called on the train drivers’ union and the federally owned railway company to negotiate. “I therefore expect the collective bargaining partners to approach each other, possibly supported by an arbitration procedure between the GDL and Deutsche Bahn. A solution must be found at the negotiating table,” said the FDP politician.
The chairman of the Conference of Transport Ministers, NRW Transport Minister Oliver Krischer, was alarmed about the impact on the economy. “The strike hits commuters as well as the economy to the core,” said the Green politician. “This puts further strain on the rail system and is diametrically opposed to the goal of transporting more people and goods by rail.”
Krischer said he had “no understanding” for a six-day strike without serious negotiations. “It seems to me that the positions are by no means unbridgeable. That’s why everyone should go back to the negotiating table to find a solution quickly.”
Jens Spahn: Strike borders on blackmail
The deputy Union parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag, Jens Spahn, accused the GDL of blackmail and spoke out in favor of a new right to strike. The CDU politician told “Bild”: “This borders on blackmail and must end as quickly as possible.” The damage to citizens and the economy is great. “The constant and long-lasting strikes at the railways are poison for our economy.”
Spahn called on the GDL leadership to quickly return to the negotiating table. At the same time, he called for changes to the right to strike for companies in the critical infrastructure sector. Accordingly, arbitration proceedings must become mandatory before strikes.