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Strike to shut seven airports in Germany

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-02-16 09:47

A closed security check-in at Frankfurt Airport is pictured during a strike of security staff at various German airports in Frankfurt, Germany, March 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Trade union pushes 10.5 percent pay rise for 2.5 million workers it represents

A strike on Friday by workers represented by the German trade union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, or Verdi, looks set to ground flights at seven of the nation's airports and lead to significant wider travel disruption, the company that runs one of the country's largest hubs has warned.

Fraport, which runs Frankfurt Airport, said "there will … be massive disruptions to air traffic" because of the action.

In addition to Frankfurt Airport, which handled more than 48 million passengers in 2022, the 24-hour strike will impact flights in and out of Bremen, Dortmund, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich, and Stuttgart.

The trade union said the industrial action became necessary after collective bargaining in search of a pay rise that keeps pace with inflation made only limited progress.

The Reuters news agency said Fraport had announced that all "functions allowing full flight operations" would be suspended at Frankfurt Airport because of the strike and that passengers should avoid the hub completely as a result.

Verdi said other airports will be similarly disrupted, with domestic flights likely to be especially hard hit.

The union announced the strike early on Wednesday, saying it did so to allow people enough time to make alternate travel plans.

Reuters quoted Christine Behle, a member of the union's management board, as saying poor wages for airport workers had led to vacancies in recent years, which had heaped pressure on remaining employees.

"There is still a catastrophic shortage of workers in ground services, this was clearly felt by travelers last summer," Behle said.

The German news agency Deutsche Welle said the industrial action, which is officially being described as a warning strike, followed two rounds of negotiations between the union and employers and is being coordinated so it meshes with other industrial action involving public sector workers.

DW quoted the union as saying: "The workers are jointly applying pressure on their respective employers because negotiations so far have been unable to produce results."

Verdi held a similar strike at Berlin's airport last month, which grounded around 300 flights.

The union said in a statement: "Inflation (and) high energy and food prices are forcing many workers into a precarious situation. They need significantly more money to make a living."

The union has been pushing for a pay rise of 10.5 percent for the 2.5 million workers it represents. Germany currently has an inflation rate of 8.7 percent; with fast-rising prices largely blamed on high fuel costs attributed to shortages brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The Bloomberg news agency said Friday's strike will involve public-service, air-security, and ground-traffic workers.

Agence France-Presse added that Verdi has vowed not to let Friday's strike affect planes set to deliver aid to earthquake-hit Turkiye and Syria.

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