A seven-day strike by German train drivers threatens commuter chaos and disruption to vital supply chains, the eighth in a series of walkouts over pay and working conditions. As Grace Pascoe reports the German Chancellor says the strikes could damage the economy.
Ructions ahead for German rail regulars. Millions of passengers are enduring a record seven-day long train strike. And it's the eighth stoppage in 10 months. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DEUTSCHE BAHN (DB) PASSENGER, VICTORIA ABRAOVA, SAYING: "What I can't understand is why this one is lasting forever. I also don't understand how somebody could have such ineffective discussions." The train operator has repeatedly failed to come up with an agreement on wages and working hours with the drivers union GDL. Deutsche Bahn's board member Ulrich Weber is leading the talks.. (SOUNDBITE) (German) DEUTSCHE BAHN BOARD MEMBER LEADING THE WAGE TALKS, ULRICH WEBER, SAYING: " This strike seriously hurts not only Deutsche Bahn but the entire economy. It also damages the social partnership. GDL has lost all credibility and responsibility." The strike could cost the country half a million euros. Some even say it could "poison" the German economy. In a rare intervention, Chancellor Angela Merkel has even added her weight to the dispute. SOUNDBITE (GERMAN) GERMAN PRIME MINISTER, ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING: "Striking is a right in Germany. Nevertheless I believe that these strikes are creating a serious burden for many people and many companies. Therefore everything must be done to find a solution." Deutsche Bahn's usually reliable service transports 5.5 million Germans each day. It's freight service also moves a fifth of Germany's exports - both will be at a standstill for the rest of the week.