‘Mega strike’ hits Germany

Lazy eyes listen


Airports, bus stops, and train stations were closed across Germany on Monday as over 400,000 public transportation workers went on strike for 24 hours. Workers are demanding pay increases to compensate for rising inflation in Germany since last year.

The strike started at midnight and will end at midnight on Tuesday. The German Airports Association estimates that around 380,000 passengers were stranded at eight major German airports. From Sunday onwards, Munich Airport was completely shut down, with all flights canceled and the terminal deserted.

On Monday, Deutsche Bahn announced that all long-distance services had been canceled, with regional services only resuming in some areas by Monday evening. Trams, buses, and metro lines were also disrupted across the country.

Freight trains and shipping traffic into and out of Hamburg, Germany’s largest port and Europe’s third busiest, were also halted.

The strike is the result of several major trade unions’ demands for wage increases. Verdi, a public sector union representing 2.5 million workers, wants a 10.5% raise, but no less than €500. EVG, which represents approximately 230,000 employees at Deutsche Bahn and other bus companies, seeks a 12% wage increase of no less than €650.

On Monday, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told Reuters that an agreement between the government and the unions is likely this week.

According to Verdi CEO Frank Werneke, approximately 400,000 workers participated in the strike. The walkout was dubbed a “mega strike” by German newspapers, who called it the largest such disruption in decades.

Werneke told the German newspaper Bild that getting a raise is “a matter of survival for many thousands of employees” who are struggling to keep up with rising living costs.

Germany, once Europe’s economic powerhouse, has seen industrial output fall and inflation rise to 8.7% in February, up from a steady rate of 0-2% between the mid-1990s and the beginning of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last year.

Prior to the conflict, Germany was heavily reliant on Russian gas and oil imports, which all but ceased after the EU imposed sanctions and the allegedly US-orchestrated destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. Despite the German government’s announcement in January that the country would narrowly avoid a recession this year, credit ratings agency Fitch forecasted earlier this month that the German economy would enter a recession by late 2023.