Authoritarian defence of the German model? Conflicts over the freedom of collective bargaining and militant strikes in the German railway sector


1 July 2016


Volume 1 – Number 8

How to cite

Stefanie Hürtgen



This article argues that the recent strike wave in the railway sector can be seen as a reflection of a deep-seated social crisis in the country. This crisis was born out of the deregulation and fragmentation of labour relations, and is reflected in the privatisation and marketisation of the German railway system. The “small” train drivers’ union GdL successfully led the opposition against the changes and did so by using the strike weapon. When the Merkel government responded by cracking down on the right to strike for smaller unions with a new law, the GdL managed to bypass this crackdown.


Deregulation and fragmentation of labour relations, German railway system, Strikes, Freedom of collective bargaining