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German train drivers in pay strike

German train drivers have started a five-day strike, their longest walkout yet in an increasingly bitter dispute with the country's railway operator.

Passenger train drivers walked off the job at 2am today, joining freight train drivers who started their strike yesterday. The GDL union said the drivers will not return to work until 9am on Sunday.

Railway operator Deutsche Bahn said only about a third of its trains will continue to operate under its back-up plan.

GDL wants a 5% pay increase and shorter hours but the central sticking point is its demand to negotiate for other staff including conductors who are traditionally represented by a larger rival union.

Deutsche Bahn has offered a 4.7% increase and a one-off payment, and has suggested taking the dispute to arbitration.

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