Business & Economy

A major strike in Germany stops transportation

Airports, bus and train stations across Germany were paralyzed Monday morning during one of the biggest strikes in decades, throwing millions of people into a tailspin at the start of the working week.

The strike comes at a time when Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is suffering from inflation.

The scheduled 24-hour strike, called by trade union Verdi and transport workers union EVG, is the latest in months of strikes that have battered major European economies as rising food and energy prices hit living standards.

Two of Germany’s largest airports, Munich and Frankfurt, suspended flights, while rail operator Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance flights. Strikers wearing red vests honked horns and whistles at an empty train station in Munich.

Employees are pressing for higher wages to mitigate the effects of inflation, which reached 9.3% in February. Germany, which was heavily dependent on Russian gas before the war in Ukraine, has been hit hard by the rise in prices in particular as it seeks to search for new energy sources, as its inflation rates have exceeded the average inflation in the eurozone in recent months.

The Verdi union also negotiates on behalf of 2.5 million employees and workers in the public sector, including those working in public transport and airports. The EVG railway and transport workers’ union is negotiating for the 230,000 employees and workers of Deutsche Bahn’s rail and bus companies.

Each party stuck to its position in the hours leading up to the strike, and union bosses said the massive wage hike was a matter of “life or death” for thousands of workers.

Verdi’s union is calling for a 10.5% increase in wages, which would mean a salary increase of at least 500 euros ($538) per month, and EVG is asking for a 12% increase, or about 650 euros ($702) a month at least.

The stranded passengers mixed sympathy for the workers with dissatisfaction with the strike.

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