FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The union representing German train drivers on Thursday launched a 42-hour strike against Germany's Deutsche Bahn national railway, targeting freight services in an effort to secure a pay raise.
The GDL union said train drivers walked off their jobs starting at 12 p.m. (1100 GMT).
This week's strike is aimed solely at freight service, following earlier actions that targeted commuter rail services around major German cities. The union threatened to strike passenger trains again next week if the railway operator did not offer a new wage deal.
Deutsche Bahn's chief personnel officer, Margret Suckale, decried the strike, saying the disruptions posed a ''serious threat'' to the economy.
''Germany as a place of doing business is being paralyzed,'' Suckale said in a television interview on ZDF public television.
The union moved ahead with the strike after Deutsche Bahn said Tuesday it would make no new wage offers.
''We won't allow train drivers to go home with euro1,500 net,'' (or US$2,200), union Chairman Manfred Schell said in a statement about the drivers' net monthly salary.
The union had been limited previously to striking commuter trains, after the company last month secured a court ruling restricting strikes.
But last week, a court overturned the ban on strikes on freight and long-distance service.
GDL wants Deutsche Bahn to cut the working week by one hour to 40 hours, and a to increase salaries by up to 31 percent.
It also insists train drivers be given a separate pay deal, rather than being given the same deal offered to other railway workers.
GDL so far has rejected a 4.5 percent raise that Deutsche Bahn agreed to in talks with two rival unions that represent a broader range of railway workers.
Deutsche Bahn carries 5 million passengers daily.