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German rail workers launch six-day strike 

InterCity IC trains of DB Deutsche Bahn at Karlsruhe main station in Germany

German rail workers launch six-day strike 

Passenger train drivers in Germany have started a six-day strike and vowed not to return for the duration.

They walked off the job on Wednesday, January 23, as part of a protest over pay and working conditions

The chairman of the GDL union, Claus Weselsky, announced the strike, one of the most significant on the national rail service in years.

Weselsky cited breakdowns in negotiations with Deutsche Bahn, the national rail company, and accused its chief negotiator of "trickery and deception." 

This marks the fourth strike in two months.

The walkouts are due to a growing discontent fuelled by a court decision that reduces rail system funding.

There are also concerns about German trains' declining performance.

Approximately 7.3 million people ride Deutsche Bahn-operated trains daily, a number on the rise due to climate change concerns.

The company also handles about 600,000 tonnes of freight daily. 

This strike, which affects more leisure travellers than recent ones, comes amid dissatisfaction with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's administration.

His administration is plagued by infighting and seen by some as being removed from the problems facing regular Germans.

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The labor dispute's focal point is the required working hours for shift-scheduled drivers.

The union pushes for a 35-hour week compared to Deutsche Bahn's offer of 37 hours (current working hours are 38). 

Additionally, the GDL demands a monthly pay increase of €555 ($600) for all workers, constituting an 18 percent rise in starting salaries. 

Deutsche Bahn's rejected offer proposed an almost 13 percent increase for those working the full 38-hour week.

The strike poses a significant challenge to Deutsche Bahn's goal of attracting new riders and cargo, crucial to Chancellor Scholz's climate objectives. 

Travelers and businesses may consider alternative transportation options if they perceive the rail system as unreliable.

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