German train drivers start five-day strike; longest yet in increasingly bitter wage dispute

IndustriesAssociated Press

German train drivers have started a five-day strike, their longest walkout yet in an increasingly bitter dispute with the country's railway operator.

Passenger train drivers walked off the job at 2 a.m. Tuesday, joining freight train drivers who already started their strike Monday. The GDL union says the drivers won't return to the job until 9 a.m. Sunday.

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Railway operator Deutsche Bahn says only about a third of its trains will continue to operate under its backup plan.

GDL wants a 5-percent pay increase and shorter hours but the central sticking point is its demand to negotiate for other staff including conductors who are traditionally represented by a larger rival union.

Deutsche Bahn has offered a 4.7-percent increase and a one-off payment, and has suggested taking the dispute to arbitration.