Berlin | Public transport was severely disrupted Tuesday morning across Germany, following a call for a strike by the powerful Ver.di union, which is calling for the negotiation of a new nationwide collective agreement.
“Ver.di calls on public transport workers to a warning strike” to “increase the pressure,” the union said in a statement Tuesday.
In many large cities across the country, the availability of public transport has been drastically limited since 1:00 GMT.
In the capital, Berlin, “hardly any bus, metro or tram” runs, while in Hamburg, “no metro should operate” until 10:00 GMT, have warned the transport companies of the two cities.
In Munich, in the south of the country, “there is no more metro” and “only half of the buses are in circulation”, tells AFP a spokesperson for the MVG, which operates public transport .
Long-haul trains are not affected.
The union Ver.di calls for the establishment of a negotiation, for a collective agreement applying for the whole country to 87,000 employees in the sector.
He asks that “an end to the unequal treatment of employees in the various Länder (German States, Editor's note)”, and calls for common rules on leave and bonuses.
However, the organization of municipal employers (VKA), which represents employers in the sector in Germany has “refused these negotiations”, according to the union.
“The behavior of Ver.di is irresponsible, especially in this time of crisis”, for its part regretted the VKA in a statement.
The strike movement is expected to end in most cities around 10:00 GMT.
“Warning strikes” – coordinated walkouts lasting a few hours – traditionally accompany the beginning or the middle of wage negotiations in Germany carried out on a seasonal basis at the end of each branch agreement.
In the event of a more persistent blockage, the unions then resort to a so-called “hard” strike.