When will the next set of rail strikes take place in Germany?

Rail union EVG and German rail operator Deutsche Bahn have reached a deadlock in negotiations. Could there be another round of rail strikes as early as next week?

When will the next set of rail strikes take place in Germany?
Passengers cross the platform at Munich Central Station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

As June gets underway, schools in a number of states are beginning their summer holidays, marking the start of Germany’s peak travel season.

From next week, the populous states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatine will all be on their summer break, with North Rhine-Westphalia due to follow at the end of June.

But the spectre of further strikes on Germany’s rail network is casting a shadow over many people’s travel plans – especially those who are planning a staycation. 

That’s largely because, after three rounds of negotiations, the rail union EVG and Deutsche Bahn still seem far away from reaching a pay deal.

While Deutsche Bahn is pitching a 12 percent pay hike over two years, EVG is insisting on 12 percent over 12 months, with a minimum pay rise of €650 per month to ensure lower earners get a steeper increase than their better-paid colleagues. 

In the latest exchange of blows between the two parties, EVG turned down the latest improved pay offer from Deutsche Bahn and slammed the proposals as “socially unjust”.

On Wednesday, the union also called on the rail operator resume talks and made a thinly veiled threat of further industrial action if DB refused.

“If nothing happens at the negotiating table, we have to apply pressure with #Warnstreiks,” it tweeted.

READ ALSO: German rail workers reject Deutsche Bahn pay deal: Are more strikes looming?

When could the next strikes happen?

According to media reports, EVG has ruled out strikes over the weekend, meaning rail passengers can breathe a sign of relief if they’re travelling on Saturday or Sunday.

That’s partly because any new round of strikes would require an internal vote, and also because Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of a tragic ICE accident in Eschede that saw 101 people lose their lives. 

“It is important for colleagues that we will not strike on this day and also not on the days of arrival and departure for the commemoration on Friday and Sunday,” EVG chief negotiator Kristian Loroch explained.

EVG strike demo Duisburg

Demonstrators from the EVG rail union gather in front of Duisburg Hauptbahnhof during a strike in March. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Reichwein

However, union sources have told Focus magazine that a strike on Monday or Tuesday is “highly likely” – partly because of the disruption it could cause over the busy holiday period.

There has also been speculation that EVG is waiting to see what rival train drivers’ union GDL will propose when it put forward its own pay demands on June 5th. 

Though GDL isn’t set to negotiate a new collective agreement until autumn, the union has has a combative relationship with EVG and has previously attacked the larger rail union for being too moderate in its demands. 

That suggests that GDL’s latest bid could act as a bellwether in EVG’s ongoing negotiations.  

Can more strikes still be avoided?

Earlier in the week, another round of national rail strikes appeared inevitable – but EVG’s tone softened slightly ahead of the weekend. 

According to reports in Tagesschau, Deutsche Bahn has now agreed to sit back at the negotiating table with EVG after initially ruling out more talks as “pointless”.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get compensation for delayed or cancelled trains in Germany

In a release announcing the news on Thursday evening, EVG steered clear of any mention of strikes.

However, it is still common practice in Germany for unions to call warning strikes ahead of scheduled talks as a way of flexing their muscles and strengthening their hand in negotiations.

These are normally announced a few days before they happen.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Truckers in Germany end ‘unprecedented’ strike

Truck drivers who transport goods around Europe ended a weeks-long work stoppage in Germany including a hunger strike after reaching a pay deal at the weekend, labour representatives said.

Truckers in Germany end 'unprecedented' strike

Edwin Atema, head of the Road Transport Due Diligence Foundation, which monitors and addresses violations of work standards in Europe, said Saturday that the striking truckers had seen their demands met.

“All claims and charges against the Graefenhausen drivers are withdrawn, money has been paid and the strike is over,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter, referring to the location in western Germany where some 80 drivers had set up a protest encampment.

Atema, who led the negotiations on the labour side, said the drivers had been previously “invisible” in European road transport supply chains but achieved “fundamental changes” with their industrial action.

“Not invisible anymore, but invincible,” he said.

The truckers — mostly from Uzbekistan and Georgia, with a handful also from Tajikistan, Ukraine and Turkey — work for several Polish trucking companies owned by the Mazur Group.

They said they were not being regularly paid their salaries — at a daily rate of about 80 euros ($85) — and were charged hefty amounts to even take the jobs in the first place while having to work extremely long hours.

Believing their Polish employers would not respond to their growing desperation amid the 10-week strike, some of the drivers stopped eating last month.

They were demanding a total of 500,000 euros in what they said were unpaid wages. Details of the pay agreement were not made public.

The Mazur Group insisted last month that all salaries were paid “in a timely manner” and had undergone a recent inspection which found no
irregularities in payments.

The drivers transport a range of goods for major European companies, working in countries including Germany, France, Italy, Austria, the
Netherlands and Switzerland.

German Labour Minister Hubertus Heil welcomed the deal, expressing his “big thanks and respect” to Atema on X.

Atema, who is also a Dutch union official, had said the truckers chose to stage their strike in Germany, rather than Poland, as they felt safer taking action there.

He called the truckers’ action “unprecedented” in the European road transport industry.