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Frankfurt Airport workers halt strike for talks
Photo: DPA

Frankfurt Airport workers halt strike for talks

Published: 22 Feb 2012 11:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Feb 2012 13:50 GMT+01:00

Frankfurt Airport's tarmac traffic controllers have called off their five-day strike after the company that runs Germany's largest air hub offered to negotiate over their wage demands.

Matthias Maas, a spokesman for the GdF union which represents the 200 workers said so-called "apron staff" that guide planes on the ground would be back on the job beginning with Wednesday's night shift. Negotiations with airport operator Fraport are set to begin Thursday morning.

Hundreds of flights – mostly intra-European and German domestic flights – have been cancelled since warning strikes took place Thursday and Friday followed by full strikes from Monday through Wednesday.

About 165 of the roughly 1,200 flights scheduled to take off on Wednesday were cancelled, according to Fraport. About 80 percent of scheduled flights remained on schedule by training temporary employees to take over the duties of the striking workers.

Despite Fraport’s assertion that its contingency plans had worked, GdF board member Markus Siebers called the strike “a great success.”

Although it has remained largely quiet during the strike, the airport’s main airline Lufthansa on Wednesday called on Fraport to resist the controllers’ demands of increase in their salaries and a decrease in working hours.

“We are the party most affected by the strike,” Lufthansa manager Stefan Lauer told the Financial Times Deutschland. “We believe Fraport should not give in to the GdF’s blackmail.”

Right now, controllers working on the aircraft apron and in air traffic control centres earn between about €50,000 and €70,000 per year, sums which the GdF say don’t take into account factors such as an increased workload since a new runway opened.

“This dispute continuing to the detriment of passengers and airlines must come to an end,” said Stefan Schulte, an executive with Fraport.

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Your comments about this article

13:48 February 22, 2012 by wood artist
That wage translates to somewhere around $70,000 to $100,000 per year in the US. I'm not certain of how the relative cost of living translates, but that would be a pretty decent wage in the US, and well above average. Yes, these folks get to work outside in the weather, but beyond that, it doesn't seem to be an incredibly physically demanding job.

In any case, whatever sympathy I might have had for them is gone! Get your butt back to work and be happy you live in Germany where most people who want a job can have one and health care is universally available.

wa
14:38 February 22, 2012 by yourkeau
@wood artist

why do you compare with the US? Why not Zimbabwe or India? 100 $ a month would also be a decent salary in Afghanistan, well above the average, so what? Also, these salaries are brutto, so net salaries will be around 2500-3000 euro/month. I would say, this is not a good wage for such an important and highly qualified job.

This is Europe, people strike here, whether you like it or not. If someone go on strike, there should be a reason for it.
15:53 February 22, 2012 by catjones
@yourkeau...two things: you obviously like extremes and you don't travel by air. When strikes start costing your family money, chime in with your support.
16:34 February 22, 2012 by yourkeau
@catjones

>two things: you obviously like extremes and you don't travel by air.

How do you know this? Instead, I know a few things about you: you obviously don't know your passenger rights:

>When strikes start costing your family money

As the strike was announced in advance, in first place you should not have chosen FRA for you departure flight. But if you did so (ie booked a ticket in advance), the airline is obliged to buy you another ticket, e.g. from Munich, and pay for the train "Frankfurt--Munich" as well.

If you don't like strikes, do not travel or live in Europe. Nowdays, worker's rights are being violated more and more (see what happens in Greece) and certainly the strikes will be more frequent in the near future.

I treat them in the same manner as snowfalls or volcanoes.
20:48 February 22, 2012 by Ramp Worker
@ wood artist

....... these people work the ramp....but in a van that has AC in the summer and heat in the winter....so it is not that hard for the money they make. And lets be real here...if you can follow a yellow line and talk on the radio you too can be a "Follow Me". For the job I do on the ramp (in the weather) I must constantly be current on a number of different systems and types of Aircraft. As a type rated Aircraft Mechanic I make far less money and work longer and harder than these folks do. If they are not happy in there work maybe they should find another job. Oh yes don't get me wrong I love what I do and would do it for less money....but lets not tell anyone that......stay safe out there on the ramp.
21:35 February 22, 2012 by wood artist
@ramp worker

I think that's my point. These are jobs that require a specific set of skills. However, from what I've seen (and I'll admit I've never done the job) they aren't skills that require years of schooling or specialized certification beyond the typical. So...the question becomes simply "Have they priced themselves out of the market?" At those salaries, I'd say Yes. There are plenty of people who would gladly take the time to learn that job...and be very happy doing it for less.

@yourkeau

My comparison was based upon two things: First, the US and Germany are somewhat similar in that both have significantly developed economies with labor unions and similar pools of workers and jobs. Comparing the German salaries with...say...India, would serve no purpose, because it would be like comparing apples and bananas. India has a much lower standard of living for most residents, a surplus of people with few job skills and limited education, and many other "cost of living" things that make any comparison impossible.

You are correct in saying that if people go on strike they should have a reason for doing so. Asking for more money when they are already probably priced out of the overall job market may be a "reason" but that doesn't make it a "good reason." If, for example, Fraport were to advertise that all those jobs were available...starting immediately...and they would provide the necessary training, I'm betting there would be a line from the Frankfurt airport to...oh...somewhere just south of Köln. In short, no matter what you THINK you're worth, or your job is worth, at some point the overall market will tell you if you're right. In this case, I believe the overall market would say...No!

wa
10:29 February 23, 2012 by The-ex-pat
I work for an airline and I see daily on the ramp what these guys do and I can tell you it is not a lot. Driving the "Follow Me" wagon for the amount of money they get is already well paid. However, as usual in Germany, the degree of self importance in any position is always very high. In days gone by, the Follow Me wagon was only used when the crew requested it if they had never landed at said airport before fr there was bad weather etc, today it is standard for every landing no matter if it is a pilots home airport. The way it is used today is ridiculous and the pilots agree too. It is another way of justifying high landing fees and is done in the name of safety, but does not actually increase it. You should see them during push back and follow me at the airport I work for. Anyone would think that they were American or UK police, they strut around around as if they own the aircraft. I was stopped by one last week as I walked by an engine I was about to service. He started to try and tell me the dangers of jet engines even though I was carrying tools, had company clothes on with the same logo as that on the aircraft. He got quite irate when I just walked away laughing.
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