The surprise strike started at 4:00 am at airports in Düsseldorf, Cologne-Bonn, Stuttgart and Baden-Baden/Karlsruhe, according to Andreas Sander from the Verdi trade union.
Workers in Berlin, Hannover, Bremen, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main – home to Germany's largest air hub – quickly followed suit.
Approximately 1,000 security personnel were expected to take part in the strike until noon. As travellers might have difficulty passing airport security checks to their gates, there could likely be widespread delays and flight cancellations.
After labour negotiations broke down in November, Verdi hopes the surprise strike will help improve working conditions for airport security workers.
“Employers have repeatedly failed to react to our demands for an overall offer, instead preferring delaying tactics,” said Sander.
The union has also called for an end to temporary contracts for security personnel, limits on regular working hours, and an expansion of job training in the sector.
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The strike came one day after wintry weather snarled air traffic in Germany. Frankfurt Airport cancelled over 150 flights on Sunday due to snowfall.