Largest Strike in Decades Brings Germany to a Standstill :- On Monday (Mar. 27), as Europe’s greatest economy struggles with inflation, airports, bus stops, and railway stations all around Germany were at a standstill, disrupting millions of people’s Monday morning commute.
The Verdi trade union and the railway and transport union EVG launched 24-hour strikes, the most recent in months of industrial action that has impacted major European economies as rising food and energy prices have a negative impact on living standards.
While rail services were cancelled by railway operator Deutsche Bahn, terminals were largely deserted as airports, including two of Germany’s largest in Munich and Frankfurt, suspended flights. Workers on strike blew horns, sirens, and whistles, held up banners, and waved flags during protests while donning yellow or red high-visibility jackets.
According to the Airports Association ADV, 380,000 travelers were impacted. Around 1,200 planes with 160,000 passengers were cancelled in Frankfurt alone, leaving travelers stranded who slept on benches. The lack of city trains in Cologne caused a rush for taxis.
Consequences of Inflation
In order to mitigate the consequences of inflation, which hit 9.3% in February, workers are pushing for better pay. As it searched for alternative energy sources, Germany, which was reliant on Russia for petrol prior to the conflict in Ukraine, was particularly hard hit by rising prices, with inflation rates recently exceeding the average for the euro-area.
Notwithstanding policymakers’ assertions that it is too early to discuss a price-wage spiral, persistent cost pressures have forced central banks to raise interest rates on a number of occasions.
Verdi is negotiating on behalf of over 2.5 million public sector workers, including those who work in transportation and airports, and EVG is doing the same for about 230,000 workers at Deutsche Bahn and bus firms.
Both sides remained steadfast in the hours leading up to the walkout, with union bosses cautioning that significant pay increases were a “matter of survival” for thousands of workers. A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn stated on Monday that “millions of people who depend on buses and trains are suffering from this excessive, exaggerated strike.”
Both sides remained steadfast in the hours leading up to the walkout, with union bosses cautioning that significant pay increases were a “matter of survival” for thousands of workers.
A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn stated on Monday that “millions of people who depend on buses and trains are suffering from this excessive, exaggerated strike.
EVG Asking for Wage
While EVG is asking for a wage increase of 12.5%, or at least 650 euros per month, Verdi is asking for a raise of 10.5%, which would see pay rise by at least 500 euros (US$538) per month.
Passengers who were stranded sympathized with the strikers while also expressing their displeasure.
“Sure, it is justified, but despite working for more than 40 years, I have never gone on strike in my life. In France, though, people regularly go on strike over various issues “Lars Boehm, a traveler, stated.
Sharp wage increases would restrict the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s financial options, complicating already tense budget talks within his triangular coalition.
Employers are cautioning that raising wages for transportation workers would necessitate raising prices and taxes to cover the shortfall.
Christian Lindner, the pro-business FDP’s finance minister, is concentrating on cutting the deficit after higher spending during the epidemic and energy crises.
On Monday, a government spokeswoman advised against bringing politics into the wage negotiations, but Interior Minister Nancy Faeser expressed optimism that a compromise would be reached this week.
Martin Burkert, the chairman of EVG, issued a warning that additional strikes could occur, possibly even during the Easter weekend.
“This has been stretched out much too long. The major players gain, but the tiny players who keep everything going receive no benefits “explained Christoph Gerschner, a striking worker. “Many work a second or third job to supplement their income.”
The disruption-causing labor strikes that have recently swept wealthy European nations like France and Britain, where hundreds of thousands of transport, health, and education workers are calling for higher pay, include Monday’s walkouts.