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Empty ATMs, rail strikes – Greece? No, Germany

Industrial action across Europe's economic powerhouse has caused travel chaos as well as a cash crisis in Berlin as industrial action has left ATMs empty.

Security couriers in Berlin have refused to keep the city's ATMs stocked with cash. On top of this train drivers for Deutsche Bahn began a seven-day walkout on Monday.

A customer uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Deutsche Bank AG branch in Munich
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Deutsche Bank AG branch in Munich

Around two-thirds of train journeys in Germany have been cancelled as a result of the train drivers' demands for a 5 percent wage rise and reduced working hours.

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ATMs are likely to remain empty for the foreseeable future. Andreas Splanemann, a spokesman for the Ver.di union, which represents the couriers, told news agencies: "There's no visibility when the strike will end — it can end today, it can last four weeks, that all depends on how the company reacts."

"There are now a lot of cash machines that are empty and the pressure on the company will rise significantly in the coming days."

German passengers wait to board their train
Adam Berry | Getty Images
German passengers wait to board their train

Meanwhile, Greeks are facing their own ATM troubles.

The left-wing Syriza government has floated proposals to tax ATM withdrawals. This would raise much-needed revenue for the cash-stretched country, and may help to prevent runs on Greek bank accounts.

On Wednesday, the German newspaper Bild revealed other reform suggestions that Athens had submitted to the EU in order to unlock further aid. These included a special levy on Greece's 500 richest families, a tax hike for workers earning more than 30,000 euros ($33,714) and a luxury tax on items such as cars and trips to Greek islands.

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