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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 10:49 GMT
Strike hits German rail freight
Stationary rail freight at a yard in Cologne
The strike has brought freight to a standstill in many industrial areas
A German freight train drivers' strike has brought transport in the east to a near standstill and halted 700 trains in total, Deutsche Bahn (DB) says.

About 900 rail workers are taking part in the 42-hour industrial action, which began at noon on Thursday and ends on Saturday morning.

The GDL union, representing 34,000 staff, says its drivers are underpaid compared with elsewhere in Europe.

It has so far rejected an offer from DB for a new round of wage talks.

Close to one-fifth of goods are transported by rail in Germany, particularly raw materials.

'Cost jobs'

Analysts estimate that each day of a freight strike will cost the economy 50m euros ($73.5m: 34.8m).

"This strike will cost jobs - and not only at the railways," said Deutsche Bahn board member Norbert Bensel.

DB says the strike has had its biggest impact in the east of the country.

Media reports in Germany say the rail operator is now considering whether to put a new offer to the union.

The union began a series of short strikes in July, mostly hitting local passenger services.

The GDL union is the smallest of three rail workers unions, and rejected a 4.5% pay rise agreed by other unions in July.

It also rejected a later Deutsche Bahn offer of a 10% pay rise, and is seeking a 30% increase.

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