Train drivers for German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn struck for 50 hours from Saturday 18 October.
The strike is the fifth in recent weeks. The union is demanding a five per cent wage hike and a shorter working week of 37 hours.
Deutsche Bahn has accused the union, GDL, of “running amok” as the 50 hour strike tactically hits a holiday weekend in Germany. The dispute is the largest within the train network since 2008 and is one of the largest disputes the country has seen in recent years.
The strike comes as the German grand coalition government is working on legislation to stop workers like train drivers using their industrial muscle. By enforcing “unified bargaining”, it would limit union rights to the major union in each sector, barring action by smaller unions representing subgroups like train drivers, pilots, and engineers.
Recently pilots within the Lufthansa group of airlines have struck, with more planned, in a dispute over retirement benefits.
The train drivers union, GDL, wants to represent other groups of employees within Deutsche Bahn such as conductors, catering staff and dispatchers.
The German government seems determined to push through anti-union legislation that will limit the industrial power of unions in key industries.