Germany's train drivers’ union accused managers of "provoking" the third round of strikes because they had not come up with a better wage proposal despite two rounds of stoppages in August.

Trains of German railway company Deutsche Bahn stand on their tracks at the main station in Munich, Germany, August 24, 2021.
Trains of German railway company Deutsche Bahn stand on their tracks at the main station in Munich, Germany, August 24, 2021. (AP)

Germany's train drivers union GDL has announced fresh strikes affecting passengers and freight traffic this week that will last longer than previous stoppages, as a wage dispute with managers escalates.

GDL union leader Claus Weselsky said the freight strike would start on Wednesday, followed by passenger rail strikes from Thursday. The industrial action will end at 02:00 am the following Tuesday (0000 GMT).

"We can't see a way to avoid a labour fight if management isn't showing any sign of movement," Weselsky said.

The renewed walkouts will bring fresh pain for commuters as summer holidays draw to a close, and are likely to further aggravate supply chain woes.

Demands for higher wages, bonus

The train drivers are seeking a 3.2-percent pay increase and a coronavirus bonus of $700 (600 euros) for 2021.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn has offered to phase in the wage increase but starting at a later date. It has also agreed to consider a coronavirus premium, but not named a figure.

The GDL union accused managers of "provoking" the third round of strikes because they had not come up with a better proposal despite two rounds of stoppages in August, which caused travel chaos for thousands.

This week's third round of strikes will be the longest yet, and GDL's Weselsky said "no one should doubt that we can go even longer".

Deutsche Bahn hit back on Monday, saying the latest strike call was "in no way justified".

"A collective wage agreement is reached through negotiations and cannot be dictated," the company's personnel director Martin Seiler said in a statement.

The previous strikes saw long-distance and urban services running at 30 to 40 percent capacity, and Deutsche Bahn said it expected a similar impact on travellers this week.

The timing of the industrial action has been criticised by some observers, who say the reduced services have forced passengers to crowd together in carriages at a time when Germany is grappling with rising coronavirus infections.

READ MORE: Germany rail disrupted due to strike, operator Deutsche Bahn says

Source: AFP