Labour battle : How the BVG strike affected us
Bad traffic jams but at least non-union buses and S-Bahns helped commuters get to work on Tuesday morning.
Berlin - No buses, no trams, no metros. As promised, the city's state-owned public transport authority BVG stopped working at 3am to protest a lack of progress in talks for a nationwide framework labour agreement, Jeremy Arndt, negotiator of union Ver.di said.
While many public employees elsewhere are striking for an entire day, BVG employees will resume work at noon, Arndt said: "We made this decision in the interests of the passengers." Still, more strikes may be needed in the future.
During the last labour disagreement, BVG employees struck four times.
BVG usually needs several hours to get back on schedule but only its trams, U-Bahns and most of its buses were affected early Tuesday. Berlin's extensive S-Bahn network, operated by Deutsche Bahn, ran normally. Extra trains and customer representatives were on-hand to support nervous commuters. Trains were about half-full around 6:30am.
"We saw earlier traffic peaks than on regular days," the Berlin Traffic Information Center said at around 7.30am. "The first major traffic jams started building up around 6.30 a.m."
The A113 was jammed where a construction site reduced road space and traffic was heavy earlier than usual at Frankfurter Tor and Landsberger Allee. Jams also held up drivers longer - instead of the usual five, drivers had to endure an average of 10 to 15 minutes more driving time. Heerstraße and Am Juliusturm in Spandau were also bogged down.
The strike differed from those held during contract negotiation last year. This time a large part of Brandenburg's local transport was also affected.
Ver.di wants better working conditions nationwide and called the strike after a national municipal employers' assocation refused to negotiate. Ver.di wants all 15,000 BVG employees to have 36.5-hour work weeks. For many employees, this would mean a reduction in working hours at the same pay since new employees have a contractual 39-hour week.
The union also wants its members at BVG to get a special "membership bonus" of €500 holiday pay each year.
Talks with the local employers' association are scheduled to continue on 13 October.
The following non-union bus lines were in full operation: 106, 112, 140, 161, 163, 168, 175, 179, 184, 234, 275, 284, 334, 341, 349, 363, 369, 370, 371, 380, 399, 740 , 744, N12, N23, N34, N35, N39, N40, N52, N53, N56, N58, N60, N61, N62, N67, N68, N69, N77, N84, N88, N90, N91, N95 and N97.
Limited service was available on: 218, 283, 395 and 398.