Local news translated – Jan 8, 2024

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan.8, 2024

The train drivers’ union announces a railway strike starting Wednesday

The Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) plans to initiate strikes in passenger traffic starting Wednesday night. In response, the German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) has implemented an emergency timetable and is taking legal action against the strike.

The Union of German Locomotive Drivers (GDL) has called for a multi-day strike in the ongoing wage dispute with the German Railway and other railway companies. The strike in passenger traffic is set to commence Wednesday night and continue until Friday evening, as announced by the GDL on Sunday evening. In freight transport, GDL members are to stop work starting Tuesday night. GDL: Railway group did not utilize Christmas peace “GDL members at Deutsche Bahn AG, Transdev, and City Bahn Chemnitz are called upon to cease work from January 10 at 2 a.m. until January 12 at 6 p.m.,” the GDL stated on Sunday evening. However, the work stoppage at DB Cargo is scheduled to begin on January 9 at 6 p.m.

The railway group did not use the Christmas peace to counteract industrial action with a negotiable offer. On Friday, the railway announced having presented a new offer aimed at preventing strikes. Emergency timetable at Deutsche Bahn from Wednesday Deutsche Bahn has announced an emergency timetable from Wednesday to Friday. The company anticipates that the planned train driver strike on these days will affect millions of passengers.

German Railway takes legal action against the strike Furthermore, the German Railway is taking legal action against the announced GDL strike. It has applied for an expedited decision at the Frankfurt Labor Court to prevent the protest in this way. “This strike is not only absolutely unnecessary but, in our view, also legally inadmissible,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Martin Seiler on Sunday evening. Deutsche Bahn is ready for compromises, and it is now time to resume negotiations. (SWR Aktuell 1.8.2024)

Böblingen: Inter-factional motion against 30 km/h zone

The dispute over the 30 km/h speed limit on Herrenberger Straße in Böblingen is entering the next round. CDU, FDP, and parts of the Free Voters are requesting a special session of the city council. The CDU city association accuses Mayor Dr. Stefan Belz of promoting ‘Green traffic ideology.’ Böblingen. The dispute over the approximately 400-meter-long 30 km/h zone, installed by the city between the years and unanimously approved by the city council in 2018 for noise reduction, extending from Herrenberger Straße at Tacuba to the List roundabout (as reported by SZ/BZ), is entering the next round. In an inter-factional motion, the seven council members of the CDU, three of the FDP, and five members of the Free Voters faction demand that the 2018 decision be revoked and replaced by the decision of October 2023 on the same subject. A special session of the city council is to be convened for this purpose. Read about what triggered the discussion here.

In essence, the 30 km/h signs are to be temporarily removed, and the existing noise action plan is to be updated with the planning data of the A-81 reconstruction and the Querspange Ost. With these updated data, public participation and the involvement of public interest groups are to be conducted, the results evaluated, and considered in the draft planning – only then could it possibly lead to the establishment of 30 km/h zones for noise protection.

The signatories of the motion, however, express their overall support for noise reduction for the benefit of the population in Böblingen.

Sharp criticism from the CDU In this regard, there is a press release from Pascal Panse and Barbara Hahn, the chairpersons of the CDU city association. In it, they accuse the administration of setting up the signs in the city center ‘overnight’ with the addition of noise protection, contradicting the approved approach of the city council in October 2023. After an open letter did not lead to a change in the administration’s stance, the official motion follows.

“For us, after the discussions in the committee and city council, it was clear that the redesign of the noise action plan, together with public participation, would take place before measures were implemented. Implementing a supposed decision from 2018 stealthily is a sleight of hand that we will not tolerate,” said CDU faction leader Dr. Thorsten Breitfeld.

“With the open letter, we gave our Green Mayor the chance to independently reverse his actions and voluntarily remove the signs. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful. Therefore, we now support the inter-factional motion and welcome the convening of a special session so that this issue is decided promptly, not only in March,” said Pascal Panse and Barbara Hahn. “There is no majority in the Böblingen city council for Green traffic ideology and experiments! ( SZBZ 1.7.2024 Dirk Hamann).

District Böblingen: Farmers bring traffic to a standstill

Nothing is moving early Monday morning at the freeway ramps towards Singen/Herrenberg and Stuttgart/Munich/Karlsruhe. Approximately 50 tractors and trucks have been blocking access since 5:30 am. District Böblingen. The contact person for the police is Herrenberg farmer Jürgen Haas. “Most drivers are understanding. There is hardly any honking,” says Jürgen Haas. And Altdorf farmer Jürgen Henne adds, “We mostly receive support. Some applaud from their cars and give a thumbs up. We will probably stay until 10 am.” Kai Binder expresses a similar sentiment: “I fully understand. If I were in the industry, I would also be part of this.” Even the Ehningen demolition contractor Bela Stahl is participating in the protests with his truck. “I think it’s good that farmers express their dissatisfaction. We shouldn’t let everything from politics slide,” he says.

On posters mounted on some tractors, the farmers share their grievances. The following can be read: “It’s not just about agricultural diesel and vehicle tax. It’s about much more.” Or: “If there are no more farmers, the fridge simply stays empty.” Or: “No farmers, no life.” However, there is also an appeal for understanding, including the inscription: “Sorry, otherwise nobody listens.”

**Moving at a walking pace through Böblingen and Sindelfingen

Not only at the freeway ramps do farmers protest, but they also travel in slow-moving columns on Sindelfingen and Böblingen main roads until early afternoon.

The German government had announced on Thursday that it would abandon the abolition of the vehicle tax exemption for agriculture. The elimination of tax benefits for agricultural diesel was to be staggered and implemented in several steps. However, the farmers believe that the announced reversal does not go far enough. Therefore, they continue their protests this week. “The announcements were the famous last straw that broke the camel’s back. For many years, we have been getting more and more regulations. Now it’s simply enough,” says Jürgen Haas.

It is crucial for the farmers that the protests remain peaceful. “We clearly distance ourselves from violence. We do not want right-wing and other radical groups with revolutionary intentions at our demonstrations,” says a farmer who does not want his name in the newspaper.

“We apologize for causing inconvenience to the public with our action. But it’s useless if we stand next to the highway and just wave to everyone. Then, we won’t get the attention that we simply must achieve now,” says Jürgen Henne. However, the farmers emphasize that there were no complete blockades, and emergency routes remained clear.

The fact that the German government had announced a partial rollback at short notice hardly consoles the farmers. They demand a complete reversal of these measures. The mood among the farmers is extremely tense. However, Jürgen Haas and his fellow protesters are not only concerned about the impending cuts. “We demand equal standards for all agricultural imports as in cultivation in Germany. It cannot be that high animal welfare, environmental protection, and product standards apply here, but for imports, it’s almost irrelevant: soy from Brazil, wheat from Ukraine, or sugar beets from France should meet the same requirements. Only then can domestic products become competitively priced again,” says Jürgen Haas.

Peaceful Protest

Jürgen Henne is also concerned about much more than the government’s decision to increase taxes on agricultural diesel. It has simply become too much for the farmers. “More and more costs and documentation are being added to us,” says Jürgen Henne, adding, “As farmers, we are in international competition throughout the EU. Everyone gets the same, but there are different rules from country to country.”

Originally, five protests were registered in the Böblingen district, much fewer than in Ludwigsburg, according to a police spokesperson. Due to many unregistered actions, Böblingen became a focal point for the demonstrations. There was also a traffic jam on Federal Highway 464.

The responsible Ludwigsburg police department provides the following summary for the districts of Böblingen and Ludwigsburg: 39 assemblies/actions, including 15 related to the freeway and ramps. A total of 60 kilometers of traffic jams with around 1050 participating vehicles (mostly tractors). “There is no information about criminal offenses or administrative offenses,” concludes the positive report. (SZBZ 1.8.2024 Daniel Krauter).