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Germany train strike: Million face delays, talks sought

By Sheetal Sukhija, Minneapolis News
11 Dec 2018, 11:56 GMT+10

BERLIN, Germany - Amid growing anger over an ongoing pay dispute, several German railway workers staged a four-hour long strike on Monday.

The strike staged by the workers impacted millions of commuters in Germany right at the start of the week, causing widespread inconvenience.

The strike on Monday came after talks between the rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Germany's largest rail workers' union EVG broke down on Saturday.

According to the operator Deutsche Bahn, the stoppage of services halted inter-city trains, regional services and several urban commuter networks, causing delays that continued throughout the day.

Deutsche Bahn criticized the strike, calling it a "completely unnecessary escalation."

The operator denied that it had broken off the talks on Saturday.

On Saturday, EVG reiterated the demand of a 7.5 percent salary rise for 160,000 Deutsche Bahn employees.

Torsten Westphal, EVG's Managing Director said in a statement, "It is our colleagues who work around the clock, 365 days a year, to ensure passenger and freight traffic in Germany... despite permanent staff shortages and the resulting many overtime. We return to the negotiating table when DB AG makes it clear they we want to negotiate seriously with us."

However, Deutsche Bahn argued in a statement on Twitter that it had offered a 5.1 percent pay rise in two stages and a one-off payment of 500 euros.

Further, the operator said that these are together equivalent to a 7 percent rise.

EVG rejected the operator's offer for a 7 percent pay increase over 29 months and said that it wanted the increase over two years instead.

The union is now hoping to hold a meeting with the rail operator on Tuesday.

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