December 8, 2018 / 12:29 PM / 9 days ago

Germans face rail strikes over Christmas as wage talks fail

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn is pictured in Berlin, Germany, November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s EVG railway workers’ union plans to stage warning strikes over the Christmas period after wage talks with rail operator Deutsche Bahn broke down early on Saturday.

“Warning strikes will now be the unavoidable consequence,” said EVG leader Torsten Westphal in a statement. The union represents most railway-related workers and professionals.

Deutsche Bahn is also holding talks with the smaller train drivers’ union GDL.

Both unions want a 7.5 wage increase and also have demands on working hours and holidays.

Deutsche Bahn, which said it had offered a 5.1 percent wage rise in two stages and a one-off payment of 500 euros, said EVG’s decision to break off talks had caused a “completely unnecessary escalation”.

“To leave the negotiating table with this offer is incomprehensible and unnecessarily unsettles our customers in the middle of the Christmas period,’ said Deutsche Bahn human resources head Martin Seiler in a statement.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Markus Wacket; Editing by Gareth Jones

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