Over the past week or two....if you lived in Germany.....you tended to notice the German railway strike. For some folks, who utilize the Bahn daily.....it's a mess. Frustrations are running high, and public sentiment amongst those regular users.....is sliding. This morning, the union hinted that things are in place for an entire weekend strike.
The union's demands? It's basically down to a list of three items. First, a pay-raise of five percent. It has been a couple of years since the last across the board pay-raise, and they might have some leverage here to accomplish this. My humble guess is that the Bahn management folks will come to agree on a upfront cash one-time payment, an immediate two-percent raise, and some one to two percent raise around a year or two from now. Based on past strikes of other unions.....it's almost zero percent chance that the whole five percent will be allowed and immediately put into place.:
(Update, the figure got pushed around today that the union got an eleven-percent raise in 2008, with roughly a two-percent rate upgrade each year. If you look across at most unions in Germany, this was the one big five-star moment).
The second demand? The union wants all employees put on a thirty-seven hour work-week....down from the current thirty-nine now. The Bahn hasn't said much over this and one might suspect that there's some way to work this into the deal. The problem is....if you have a hundred guys in one region doing X amount of work.....you come up with two-hundred hours of work missing for the week now. Would you be willing to hire five-plus employees to make up for that? Would you carve off certain work issues and contract them out....avoiding the plus-up required? Maybe the end result here is a thirty-eight hour week.
The third demand? This involves the union bringing train guards and support personnel within their umbrella and negotiate for them. This.....the Bahn management folks absolutely don't want. They've voiced this and been holding that position. Expansion of the strike umbrella in episodes isn't desired.
So if you were planning a trip this week around Germany and intending to use the Bahn to go from Berlin to Mainz.....you are basically screwed. Plan on a bus, or renting a car. Hostile Bahn users? Yes, they've gotten the right to be angry. As for the union? They've got the right to strike. And they've got the right to watch people settle the problem by driving their cars in the future, and avoiding the Bahn....thus lessening profits and lessening the need for the Bahn.