Deutsche Bahn makes new pay offer to train drivers

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BERLIN, Oct 15 (Reuters) German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said today it had made train drivers a new wage offer to resolve a dispute that has prompted a series of strikes that have caused travel misery for millions.

The offer includes one-off payments worth 2,848 dollars plus an increase in monthly wages of as much as 10 percent from next year, the company said.

''It's an offer that must now lead very quickly to a wage accord,'' said Margret Suckale, Deutsche Bahn head of personnel.

The GDL union representing 34,000 train drivers has demanded up to 31 per cent more pay and rejected a deal in July for the railways' other 195,000 workers for a 4.5 per cent pay rise.

According to Deutsche Bahn's latest offer, train drivers would qualify for a further 5 per cent wage increase on top of the 4.5 per cent if they agreed to work two extra hours per week.

Rail strikes are extremely rare in Germany but millions of passengers were stranded by strikes over the last three months, costing the economy millions of euros.

Deutsche Bahn, which the government wants to partially privatise by 2009, is Europe's largest rail and transport firm. It serves more than 5 million passengers daily on 28,000 trains.

Reuters SKB GC1751

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