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Germany's planes grounded as airport workers walk off the job

Trent Murray in Berlin

 , Updated 01:19, 02-Feb-2024

Over 1,000 flights have been cancelled across Germany after security staff walked off the job at some of the country's busiest airports. The industrial action is impacting airports including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Cologne - key hubs used for passengers with connecting flights across Europe.

It's the latest in a wave of strikes which have paralyzed parts of the EU's biggest economy, as unions heap pressure on companies to boost wages in the wake of high inflation.

Trade union Verdi, which represents security staff at the country's airports, said 25,000 of their members would strike Thursday as part of a dispute over pay.‌


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"Because of staff shortages there is the reasonable demand of 2.80 euro ($3) more per hour to make the job more attractive but to also hear the concerns of the workers. The employers must know that their workers have the right to demand this," said Verdi spokesperson Behrad Ghofrani.


'Contact your airline'

The strike, which was announced with less than 48 hours notice, has left airlines scrambling to accommodate passengers caught up in the travel chaos.

"We got the news yesterday in Singapore that our connecting flight with Lufthansa has been cancelled... The Lufthansa ChatBot didn't help, so we quickly booked pretty much the last two train seats for this morning," said passenger Hedi-Christine Kraus.

"The farmers are protesting, the trains are on strike, the airport personnel....there should be another solution. It can't go on like this, it can't," said passenger Ernst Henzel.

"I hope it works out, we want to go to San Francisco. And if we can't do it by plane, we'll take a taxi. No, just joking," said passenger Oleg Bloch.

Cancelled flights in Berlin. /CGTN
Cancelled flights in Berlin. /CGTN

Cancelled flights in Berlin. /CGTN

More travel disruption expected

While the airport strike is expected to end late Thursday, further disruption is expected on Friday, with more than 90,000 subway, bus and tram drivers walking off the job across 15 of Germany's 16 states.

Commuters in major cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart are being warned to make alternative travel plans with only limited local transport options available.

Defending the decision to launch back-to-back strikes, Verdi deputy chairwoman, Christine Behle said transport staff deserved higher salaries.

"The time has come to put more pressure on the employers," she said in Berlin.

"We have a dramatic shortage of labor in public transport and incredible pressure on employees. Buses and trains are cancelled every day in all fare zones because there are not enough staff," she added.

Germany's planes grounded as airport workers walk off the job

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Cover image: Aviation security workers led by German trade union Verdi marched through Frankfurt airport./Timm Reichert/Reuters

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