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Passengers face longest strike in history of Germany

Staff writer |
Train travellers in Germany face long strike after train driver started a strike Thursday that could be the longest work stoppage along the railroads in the country's recent history.

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Virtually all long distance, regional and metropolitan rail passenger services came to a halt at 2 am after train drivers walked off the job, their sixth strike since the start of September. A strike by rail freight service drivers had already begun on Wednesday at 3 pm.

The train drivers' union GDL said its members will not return to work until 4 am Monday and that would make it the longest rail strike in the last 20 years.

The GDL's action has provoked condemnation from across the German political spectrum, with Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on the union and rail company Deutsche Bahn to launch a round of conciliation to bring their dispute over pay and working hours to an end.

German business leaders have also attacked the strike, saying it would slow production by companies and damage the nation's economy. Petrol supply companies also warned that the expected surge in car and truck traffic could lead to fuel shortages in some areas as early as Sunday.

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