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Germany: Bahn, train drivers agree to 35-hour week in deal

Deutsche Bahn and the GDL train driver’s union have given more details of a pay-and-terms deal they struck on Monday, ending a long-running industrial dispute marked by several strikes.

Germany’s national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, published details of its pay and conditions agreement with the train drivers’ trade union GDL early on Tuesday, following a deal in a labor dispute lasting months that had been announced the previous evening.

The clash had lasted several months, six rounds of negotiations, and involved a series of strikes, some of them over multiple days impacting national rail services.

“The dispute was tough but we were able to now agree on an intelligent compromise,” Bahn personnel head Martin Seiler said on Tuesday.

He referred to the deal as a “groundbreaking solution, which enables flexibility, participation and transformation.”

The two sides returned to the negotiating table 10 days ago, after acrimonious strikes and court battles and as public criticism of the repeated disruption grew louder.

Compromise on 35-hour week

One of GDL’s core demands, which Bahn had argued was not feasible, was a reduction of the standard working week from 38 to 35 hours with no reduction in pay.

This will now be implemented, but gradually, and individual staff will be able to choose their average weekly hours for themselves, in a window between 35 and 40 hours. Those opting to work more will also be paid more.

The standard base week will be reduced starting in 2026 from 38 to 37 hours, and will then fall to 35 hours by 2029.

“Payments will not be reduced as a result of this. However this does not mean that the actual working hours of employees themselves are reduced. Workers will themselves choose their actual working hours, anything between 35 and 40 hours will be possible in the end,” a statement said.

Pay increase, inflation compensation payouts, renegotiations in 2026

GDL members, the majority of Bahn’s train drivers, will receive a one-off inflation compensation payout in two stages, €1,500 in March this year, and another €1,350 in May.

Pay will also increase by €420 monthly in two stages, €210 as of August 1 this year and another €210 as of April 2025.

At the end of 2025, the current deal’s terms will expire and fresh negotiations will be due.

“After that there follows a contractually agreed two-month negotiating period with a peace assurance until the end of February,” Bahn said in its press conference, having seemingly won a deal from GDL not to take as aggressive a negotiating posture in their next talks — at least not at first.

Source: Dw

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