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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
German railways face mass strike
Hamburg main station
Some 10 million people use trains daily in Germany
Germany is bracing for an all-out rail strike during the holiday season after drivers voted overwhelmingly for a walkout over pay.

The first strike, affecting freight trains, could start on Wednesday, the drivers' union GDL has said.

On Monday, GDL rejected rail operator Deutsche Bahn's offer of a 4.5% salary increase. GDL has demanded pay rises of up to 31%.

The union says German train drivers are among the most poorly paid in Europe.

Some 28,000 passenger trains and up to 5,000 cargo trains could be disrupted each day by the threatened strike.

Industry leaders have warned the action would mean major disruption to business.

GDL has given Deutsche Bahn until Tuesday evening to come up with a new offer.

The rail operator has refused to meet their demands and says it has contingency plans in place to keep services running.

It is hoping to rely on drivers who are civil servants and who are banned from striking, as well as other workers licensed to drive trains.

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