An eight-hour strike has brought Germany’s railways to a standstill, 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 am (0100 GMT) and 11 am (0900 GMT) on Friday morning.
Germany’s main train operator, state-owned Deutsche Bahn, announced shortly after that call on Wednesday that it was cancelling long-distance services between 3 am (0100 GMT) and 1 pm (1100 GMT) and that most regional trains also would be cancelled.
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 paralysed 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 cancelled.
EVG is seeking a raise of 12 percent. 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 percent 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 percent in March.