Airports and bus and train stations across Germany were at a standstill on Monday morning, causing disruption for millions at the start of the working week during one of the largest walkouts in decades as Europe’s biggest economy reels from inflation.

The 24-hour strikes called by the Verdi trade union and railway and transport union EVG were the latest in months of industrial action which has hit major European economies as higher food and energy prices dent living standards.

Two of Germany’s largest airports, Munich and Frankfurt, suspended flights, while long-distance rail services were cancelled by rail operator Deutsche Bahn. Striking workers wearing red high-visibility jackets blew horns and whistles through an empty Munich train station.

Employees are pressing for higher wages to blunt the effects of inflation which reached 9.3% in February. Germany, which was heavily dependent on Russia for gas before the war in Ukraine, has been particularly hard hit by higher prices as it scrambled for new energy sources, with inflation rates exceeding the euro-area average in recent months.

Persistent cost pressures have pushed central banks to a series of interest rate increases, though policymakers have said it is too early to talk of a price-wage spiral.

Verdi union is negotiating on behalf of around 2.5 million employees in the public sector, including in public transport and at airports, while railway and transport union EVG negotiates for around 230,000 employees at railway operator Deutsche Bahn and bus companies.

In the hours running up to the strike, both sides dug in their heels, with union bosses warning that considerable pay hikes were a “matter of survival” for thousands of workers.

“Millions of passengers who depend on buses and trains are suffering from this excessive, exaggerated strike,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson said on Monday.  – Reuters



You Might Also Like