Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Germany: Airport Delays Scheduled for March 27, 31-April 1 Due to Labor Strikes

According to Reuters, passengers at German airports face lengthy delays on Thursday (March 27) after trade union Verdi called for a strike by ground staff as part of wider industrial action over public sector pay.

Verdi on Tuesday (March 25) called on ground staff, baggage handlers and maintenance staff at almost all of Germany's airports to strike during the morning shift on Thursday, which runs until 1300 GMT.

The airport strike is part of wider industrial action by public sector workers, including those driving local transport or running childcare centers, after public sector pay talks failed to produce any sign of a deal.

Lufthansa, Germany's largest airline, said it expected significant disruption and would announce information on potential flight cancellations and alternative travel arrangements on Wednesday (March 26).

COMMENT: Verdi represents around 6,000 public sector airport workers in Frankfurt, Europe's third-largest hub. Lufthansa said it would have to cancel a majority of its flights from Frankfurt if many workers took part in the action.

The strike will affect Cologne-Bonn, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover and Stuttgart airports, as well as Munich and Frankfurt.

Trade unions want pay rises of 3.5% and an extra 100 euros ($140) per month for some 2.1 million federal and municipal public sector workers. That would amount to a total increase of 6.7%.

While the government accepts there will be a pay increase, it is unwilling to meet the demands by the Verdi and dbb trade unions. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has described them as "exorbitant."

German air travelers could face disruption from other vendors as well. Lufthansa pilots voted on Friday to back their demands for better pay and working conditions with industrial action.

A third round of public sector pay negotiations is due to take place on March 31-April 1.