A Deutsche Bahn executive says the German rail operator has lined up enough replacement train drivers to largely negate the impact of any further strikes over a wage dispute by the GDL train drivers' union.
Georg Brunnhuber, a member of Deutsche Bahn's supervisory board, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper that about 1,000 replacement train drivers would be able to fill gaps left by striking drivers for the union, with 34,000 members.
Deutsche Bahn and train drivers' union GDL resumed wage negotiations on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to avert strikes the union has called for January 7. Talks had collapsed on Thursday but resumed on Saturday after government intervention.
"The Bahn will do everything it can to resolve the conflict by then," Brunnhuber said. "But the Bahn is ready if the GDL gets stubborn and strikes again. About 1,000 additional train drivers are available for any further walkouts.
"In other words about 80 percent of the trains would be able to operate," he said, without offering any details on where the drivers would come from. "The supervisory board expressly supports a tough stance in the event of an all-out strike."
GDL has staged a series of damaging strikes of up to 62 hours since July, including the largest rail walkout in German history last month. The union wants a 31 percent pay increase but has signalled it would accept a 10-15 percent offer.
Deutsche Bahn said its latest offer foresees wage increases of between 8 and 13 percent but the union said that figure includes longer working hours. ( Reuters )