Massive strike in Germany: what you should know and how to protect yourself
Large-scale strikes continue in Germany, causing serious difficulties in the country's transportation system. Farmers have decided to protest against the decision to cut subsidies for agricultural diesel fuel, which has led to blocked roads and highways in all regions. Find out more about how long the inconvenience will last and how to protect yourself
The beginning of 2024 became quite turbulent for the German leadership, first local farmers started to strike, later the workers of the state-owned Deutsche Bahn joined them.
As a result of a long week of strikes, German passengers faced a certain chaos. In the state, 80% of intercity railway flights have been cancelled. Traffic on highways is also problematic due to their blocking by farmers.
In general, strikes in Germany occur regularly. Most often, workers refuse to do their jobs to fight for better wages and working conditions. However, such actions may complicate travel and disrupt many services.
Experts predict that the latest protests may cause significant disruptions in Europe's strongest economy. At the same time, the unions insist that they will continue to protest until the country's leadership accepts their demands. So this is probably just the beginning of strikes in Germany this year.
What should you know about mass strikes in Germany? What should you pay attention to when planning a trip to Germany in the context of protests? We will find out further.
Strikes by Deutsche Bahn workers at the beginning of January 2024 - causes and consequences
In early January, the German Machinists' Union (GDL) announced the first nationwide rail strike of the year - freight transport stopped running from 6:00 p.m. on January 9, and public transport strikes began at 2:00 a.m. on January 10. Protests will continue until Friday (January 12).
The protests were sparked by a long-running dispute between workers and train operator Deutsche Bahn over working hours, pay and working conditions. Central to the issue is the union's call to reduce shift workers' hours from 38 to 35 hours a week without reducing pay. The GDL is also demanding a wage increase for employees of €555 a month, plus a one-off payment of up to €3,000 to fight inflation.
As the largest employer of train drivers in Germany, DB not only operates long-distance passenger trains such as ICE, IC, EC and Nightjet trains, but also regional trains and S-Bahn lines.
In response to the strikes, Deutsche Bahn said it had introduced an emergency timetable for long-distance trains during the protests. Longer trains with an increased number of seats have also been launched, although it is not yet possible to guarantee that every scheduled trip will take place.
The strike is nationwide and the effects are expected to be felt across the country. In general, about 80% of railway flights were canceled in Germany. Thousands of passengers across Germany are already unable to reach their destinations.
Where to find information about train timetables in Germany during strikes
You can find up-to-date information about the timetable of German railways during the protests through the Bahn app or on the official website of Deutsche Bahn.
It is important to double-check the schedule and route of your chosen train before leaving home, as additional trains may be canceled at the last minute during the strike.
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What if I have purchased a ticket and my Deutsche Bahn train has been canceled due to a strike?
If your train has been canceled due to protests, Deutsche Bahn offers several options for resolving this issue:
1. You can postpone your trip and use the ticket later, on any date of your choice - your ticket remains valid for travel to the original destination even with a changed route.
2. Seat reservations can be canceled free of charge.
3. You can get a full refund without any deductions.
How did farmers' protests affect movement in Germany?
The strike by the drivers coincides with a week-long strike by German farmers, who have been blocking city streets and access roads in some parts of the country since Monday, January 8.
Farmers have blocked road traffic with their tractors to protest the government's plan to scrap tax credits for diesel fuel used in agriculture.
Farmers' protests caused traffic jams in many German cities, and many freeways were also blocked.
The next mass demonstration of farmers is planned in Berlin on January 15.
With rail disruptions and road closures, traveling around Germany is quite difficult at the moment.
How to plan a trip to Germany in conditions of strikes?
Given that there is a high probability of strikes again in Germany, we have prepared for you some tips on how to plan travel during strikes.
Tip 1: Experts say the first thing to do when planning a trip to Germany is to check whether your trip coincides with a planned strike and, if possible, avoid traveling on those dates.
Strike notices are usually published several weeks in advance. Travelers should do their own research and not wait for airlines or agents to share important information. In this way, you will be able to protect yourself from purchasing tickets during the protest period.
Tip 2: If it is impossible to postpone or cancel the trip (for example, you are going to a wedding or an operation), then it is better to arrive at the destination a few days before the planned protest, and take a return ticket a couple of days after it ends.
Tip 3: Make sure the airlines or your tour operator have your up-to-date contact details in case of schedule changes.
Tip 4: If your trip falls on a strike period, be prepared to make compromises and use alternative routes to your final destination.
Tip 5: When traveling to cities where there is a high probability of strikes, visit the most important attractions at the beginning of the city tour, avoid day trips and, if possible, book a backup travel option in advance.
Tip 6: When traveling by plane, it is better to keep phone chargers in your hand luggage, this will help significantly if you have to stay for a long time at the airport.
Tip 7: If the strikes do disrupt your vacation plans, try to treat the protests as a cultural experience and part of the trip.
Daria Rogova, Head of Insurance at Visit World
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