Sunday, February 7, 2010

Strike One! and We're Out of Luck.....

So apparently it's not unusual for public transportation workers to go on strike (Streik! auf Deutsch) about once a year.  As I was finishing up my day of school work Thursday afternoon, about an hour before going home, it was announced that all of our underground subway lines (U-bahn), all of the above ground tram lines (Strassenbahn), and half of the buses would be on strike and not running on Friday.  It was nice to have a head's up that my Friday commute would be a little different.
     The workers apparently wanted to have Friday off and a 5% salary increase, which translated to me having to walk about 30 minutes to the nearest subway stop that had "S-bahns" which are typically more of a regional train system around major cities.  From that stop I could catch my train to school as usual.  Thank God the S-bahn wasn't on strike, because that would've meant a complicated route of bus and/or taxi riding.  From what I've heard, the S-bahn will also have a strike at some point in the year, but they never strike on the same day - strikers with a conscience.
     In the end, it wasn't that big of a deal and life proceeds normally - it's just a slight inconvenience for a day.  It was especially inconvenient when Marisa and I were trying to get back home after work and take our bags down to the main train station to catch a bus out to the airport to fly to London.  We ended up taking a taxi, since it also decided to rain that afternoon.
     Here's one thing that boggles my mind about the whole situation......usually when workers strike, they are actually trying to get something out of it.  Thus, they usually would strike for multiple days until an agreement is reached.  So the point of striking is to make it really inconvenient for lots of people so that you get your voice heard, right?  In this case it was more symbolic.  The strike was planned and advertised beforehand and it was only meant to last a day, and it was coordinated so that not everyone was on strike, which allowed people to get to work one way or another.  I had images in my mind of New York City when it's transportation system went on strike and there were thousands of people in suits walking through the streets - this was nothing like that.  Interesting though nonetheless.
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