BERLIN (AP) — An eight-hour strike brought Germany’s railways to a standstill on Friday morning, while walkouts also were underway at four major German airports in a parallel pay dispute.
The EVG rail workers’ union called for members to walk out between 3 a.m. and 11 a.m. Germany’s main train operator, state-owned Deutsche Bahn, announced shortly after that call on Wednesday that it was canceling long-distance services between 3 a.m. and 1 p.m. and that most regional trains also would be canceled.
EVG says it needs to step up pressure on employers as it seeks an inflation-busting pay raise. Deutsche Bahn, which is one of dozens of companies hit by the strike, has called the walkout “pointless and unnecessary” and accused EVG of trying to score points in a bitter long-term rivalry with another rail union.
The walkout follows a full-day strike on March 27 that paralyzed the railway network. That strike was coordinated with another union, ver.di, which brought most of Germany’s airports and some regional transit networks to a standstill.
Ver.di called security and service workers at Duesseldorf, Cologne-Bonn and Hamburg airports out on strike on Thursday and Friday. Stuttgart airport was also affected on Friday, with all departures canceled.
EVG is seeking a raise of 12%. Ver.di is engaged in a series of pay negotiations — notably for employees of Germany’s federal and municipal governments — in which it has sought a 10.5% pay raise, though mediators have proposed a compromise that would result in a lower increase.
New rounds of negotiations in both disputes are scheduled in the coming days.
Germany’s annual inflation rate has declined from the levels it reached late last year but is still high. It stood at 7.4% in March.