Security screeners began a day-long strike at 11 of Germany’s busiest airports on Thursday, virtually halting departures, scuttling travel plans for an expected 200,000 people and adding to the chaos caused by public sector strikes .
Airports serving Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart canceled all departures in anticipation of the work stoppage, while others, including Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest, – were trying to keep some flights flying, but warning of significant delays and cancellations.
“The work of airport security personnel must remain financially attractive so that the skilled workers we urgently need can be recruited and retained,” said Wolfgang Pieper, one of the main negotiators for Verdi, the public sector union at the origin of the strike. Screeners are demanding an hourly increase of 2.80 euros, or about $3, or a 14 percent increase for a starting salary.
The federal association of aviation security companies, BDLS, which represents employers, described these demands as “utopian”. He proposed a 4 percent increase this year, followed by a 3 percent increase next year.
The one-day strike is just one of several recent labor actions that have affected life in Germany, where union workers are clamoring for higher wages in the face of inflation. The minimum wage was raised to 12.41 euros an hour last month, but most union jobs pay significantly more.
Travelers experienced some relief this week as train drivers agreed to return to work on Monday, ending a six-day strike early. Striking engineers managed to bring rail transport to a halt, with only one in five intercity trains running.
On Tuesday, 5,000 doctors working at university hospitals across the country went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions.
When airport workers return to their jobs Friday morning, travelers and commuters will face a new obstacle: public transport workers will walk off the job to protest their wages, stopping trams, subways and buses for the morning commute, until 10 a.m.
Verdi, the union leading the airport screeners’ strike, is also pushing for higher wages for ground and service staff working for Lufthansa and a chain of regional airports.
For people planning to travel by plane on Thursday, Lufthansa warned of a reduction in service and offered train tickets to travelers with domestic flights booked to and from Frankfurt.
The airports serving Munich – Germany’s second largest airport – and Nuremberg were not affected, because security screeners there have different contracts.
“In Germany we see strike announcements almost daily to the detriment of mobility and the economy,” said Ralph Beisel, director of the airport association ADV. “This has to stop,” he added.