Collective bargaining: warning strike largely paralyzes Munich's local public transport

Collective bargaining: warning strike largely paralyzes Munich's local public transport

By Andrew Schubert

When the elderly lady at the Sendlinger Tor underground station wants to take the escalator to the U1, she is stopped by three friendly men in yellow vests. U1? Does not drive. Why? Because there is a strike.

The woman didn’t know that. And when she tells the gentlemen from the MVG security service that she has a doctor’s appointment in Nymphenburger Straße in 20 minutes, they are extremely helpful and consider together how she could still make it to the doctor. Finally, one of the three lends the woman his phone so that she can at least tell the doctor that she will be late. Instead of grumbling, the woman keeps her good mood. “Always this strike,” she says, laughing.

The Verdi union has called on local public transport workers to go on warning strikes this Thursday and Friday. Two full days, mind you, from start to finish. Traffic has been largely at a standstill since 3:30 a.m. As at the airports, the union wants to demonstrate that it means business. She calls for 10.5 percent more wages for employees in the public sector and local transport companies, but at least 500 euros more per month. Because the employees of the Munich Transport Company (MVG) are paid according to a company tariff, Verdi is also committed to ensuring that in future they will be remunerated according to the collective agreement for local transport that applies throughout Bavaria.

Trade union secretary Franz Schütz speaks on the phone of a high willingness to go on strike. “The frustration is great.” With the warning strike, they also want to send a political signal. Because if there is a general lack of money for local public transport, then there is none for the staff. “Who still wants to be a driver there?” Schütz asks himself.

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Car traffic is backed up and many S-Bahn trains are quite full

In front of the depot on Einsteinstrasse, the pickets literally whistle at those colleagues who still move out with buses. They get support early in the morning from the activists of the Anti-Capitalist Climate Alliance, who block the buses for two hours.

The strike is having an impact in the city: there are more cars on the streets than usual. Commuter traffic is slow on the Mittlerer Ring. There are also traffic jams on the traffic axes towards the center, for example on Lindwurmstraße, which is already prone to traffic jams due to the construction work on Sendlinger-Tor-Platz.

Collective bargaining: In the morning from Sendling towards the city center progress is sluggish.  Because of the MVG strike, more people are traveling in cars.

From Sendling in the direction of the city, progress is sluggish in the morning. Because of the MVG strike, more people are traveling in cars.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

Collective bargaining: The number of cyclists on the streets is also unusually high - as is the number of pedestrians.

The number of cyclists on the streets is also unusually high – as is the number of pedestrians.

(Photo: Robert Haas)

In contrast, there is hardly anything going on underground. At least line U6 has been running since shortly before 8 a.m. because, according to MVG, ten drivers did not take part in the walkout. At least they get a ten-minute cycle in the morning. But at noon it’s over for the rest of the day, and there’s no more staff at the shift change. On the other hand, the S-Bahn trains that are not on strike are sometimes quite full, depending on the line. Especially in the S1, which many use as a replacement for the U2 from Feldmoching and the U3 from Moosach, it gets tight at times.

Some of the vehicles on Metrobus line 62, which connects Rotkreuzplatz with Ostbahnhof, are also much fuller than usual. MVG runs on this line every ten minutes in the morning. With the exception of lines X30, 58/68, 153, 159 and 185, the other bus lines also run, mostly every 20 minutes.

The tram doesn’t work at all in the morning. At 9 a.m., the only line that goes into operation is tram 20 between Moosach and Stachus. In this way, the connection from the north-west of the city to the center is maintained. In the afternoon, the message comes: From 8 p.m., Tram 20 will also no longer run – in the early evening, however, this information can no longer be found in the updated information from MVG. Of all night tram and bus lines, only line N40 is expected to run.

Some companies also use the warning strike for advertising. “We don’t go on strike,” announces a car-sharing service via a push notification on a smartphone. In the subway ad, a food delivery man advises potential customers: “Don’t let the strike slow you down.”

The strikers have partially succeeded in slowing down. But the “strike chaos” that the mute newspaper vendors are talking about is still in vain. As experience from previous strikes shows, things always make progress in Munich somehow. It seems as if many took the walkout as a welcome reason to get their bikes out of the basement. For the beginning of March, the density of cyclists on the streets is unusually high. But maybe that was just because of the nice weather.

This Friday, the climate movement Fridays for Future will be demonstrating at Odeonsplatz from 12 p.m. The MVG strikers are also there.



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