Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

On Monday, Germany Will Experience a “Mega-Strike”

On March 27, German railway workers and public sector employees will shut down the whole country. All trains are being canceled. Airports, freeways, hospitals, and daycare centers will all be affected.

Nathaniel Flakin

March 25, 2023
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: Sven Hoppe

France is currently in flames. Millions have been taking to the streets to protest against the government’s anti-democratic measure to raise the retirement age. Across the Rhine, Germany — where there tend to be far fewer strikes — is also set to experience a historic strike.

Starting on Monday at midnight and lasting for 24 hours, hundreds of thousands of workers will be on strike. This is set to be the biggest strike in Germany in more than 30 years. It represents a convergence of different struggles in progress.

On the one hand, the railway workers’ union EVG (not the same as the train drivers’ union GDL) is demanding a 12 percent raise for their members. Three decades after a partial privatization, the state-owned railway company Deutsche Bahn is in permanent crisis, with workers desperately holding together a system that has been hollowed out by under investment. The participation is going to be so high that management announced the cancellation of all trains in the country.  

On the other hand, the service sector union ver.di is negotiating a contract for public-sector workers. The TVöD contract covers 2.5 million employees of federal and city governments — in all kinds of workplaces, from hospitals to daycare centers to government offices — and the union is demanding 10.5 percent more money for everyone. The governments are only offering raises of 5 percent — which, since it’s below the inflation rate, would mean across-the-board wage cuts.

Other strikes are taking place now as well. Just last week, thousands of Berlin teachers were on strike for two days demanding smaller classes. Before that was a massive strike at the privatized German postal service. There, the ver.di bureaucracy announced a terrible compromise at the last second — a “raise” below the inflation rate, so a de facto wage cut — even though 86 percent of union members had voted to strike for as long as necessary until the full demands were won. This is a warning that the union bureaucrats are not to be trusted.

Faced with the “Mega Strike” on Monday, the capitalists’ representatives are attacking the right to strike, crying that the population “is being taken hostage” by unions. But the situation is the exact opposite: the only hostage-takers are the bosses. They threaten millions of working-class people: if you don’t keep working, for ever-lower wages, you’ll be thrown out on the street. But in the strikes, we see that workers are rejecting this blackmail. They are showing who is keeping the economy running: by simply folding their arms, they are able to bring everything to a standstill.

Different governments in Germany — whether they are led by social democrats, conservatives, greens, or even “The Left” — are all claiming that there is not enough money for wage increases to match inflation. But these same parties had no problem providing €100 billion for the military. At the same time, German corporations are making record profits. These capitalist politicians tell working people to “tighten their belts” to support the war effort — but they would never even dream of touching corporate profits.

On Monday, buses, trams, and subways in different German cities will stand still. Higher wages for workers in public transport companies are essential to recruiting new workers and overcoming the desperate shortages of personnel. And that is in turn essential for reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector. This is therefore also a climate strike.  That’s why Fridays for Future and other climate activists have declared their support for it. The German government, which includes the so-called Green Party, is only interested in building freeways and subsidizing the car industry.

Unlike in France, it is unusual in Germany for different strikes to take place on the same day like this. Germany has one main union confederation, the DGB, with almost six million members. Yet the affiliated unions are involved in constant bureaucratic wrangling and almost never work together. Even during the “Mega-Strike” in Berlin, for example, the EVG and ver.di are planning to march separately.

The “mega-strike” is thus a result of huge pressure from below in Germany’s large but largely passive unions. Inflation has made it essential for workers to fight for wage increases. At the same time, workers in France are showing that fighting can get results, inspiring their class siblings across the border. But there is another important lesson from Paris: a one-day strike will not be enough. The “Mega Strike” deserves full support — and can only be a start for a real struggle to make the capitalists pay for their crisis.

Facebook Twitter Share

Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from Berlin. He is on the editorial board of Left Voice and our German sister site Klasse Gegen Klasse. Nathaniel, also known by the nickname Wladek, has written a biography of Martin Monath, a Trotskyist resistance fighter in France during World War II, which has appeared in German, in English, and in French, and in Spanish. He has also written an anticapitalist guide book called Revolutionary Berlin. He is on the autism spectrum.



A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024

Nancy Fraser, Jacques Rancière, Silvia Federicci and many others say: Stop the Criminalization of Palestine Solidarity in France!

Anasse Kazib, a union activist and former presidential candidate, was recently interrogated by French anti-terrorist police. In this open letter, more than 800 prominent intellectuals and activists call to stand united against the criminalization of Palestine solidarity.

A mash-up of Macron over a palestinian flag and articles detailing the rising repression

Against the Criminalization of Opinion and in Defense of Our Right to Support Palestine: We Must Stand Up!

In France, the repression of Palestine supporters is escalating. A conference by La France Insoumise (LFI) has been banned; a union leader has been arrested and charged for speaking out for Palestine; court cases have increased against those who “condone terrorism”; and the state has stepped up its “anti-terrorism” efforts. In the face of all this, we must stand together.

Nathan Deas

April 23, 2024

Occupy Against the Occupation: Protest Camp in Front of Germany’s Parliament

Since Monday, April 8, pro-Palestinian activists have been braving Germany's bleak climate — both meteorological and political — to protest the Israeli genocide in Gaza, and the unconditional German support for it. 

Erik de Jong

April 20, 2024


A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024

CUNY Workers Should Support the Five Demands of the Student Encampment

As the PSC CUNY Delegate Assembly prepares to debate a vote to endorse the five demands of the CCNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment, members of CUNY on Strike offer the following rebuttal to the bureaucratic union leadership that has been trying to distance itself from the struggle against the genocide in Gaza. 

Signs and banners at the picket line in front of the UC Santa Cruz in May, 2024. UC student workers are beginning a historic strike for Palestine, against genocide.

University of California Student Workers Begin Historic Political Strike against Repression and Genocide

This week, student and postdoctoral workers at the University of California began a historic strike in response to the brutal, violent repression of students, faculty, and staff protesting for Palestine. The action marks an important escalation of the labor movement’s struggle in defense of Palestine and the right to protest.

Olivia Wood

May 21, 2024
Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024