The trade union representing Germany's air traffic controllers GdF announced Friday that its dispute with DFS, the company that manages Germany's air traffic control, was not over, and that strikes could be called next week if a new offer is not made.
The GdF's leading negotiator Dirk Vogelsang said the union was sticking to its plan to call a one-day strike some time next week, promising that it would give at least 24 hours' warning.
Ramsauer called on the union to "see reason" on Saturday. The minister told news magazine Der Spiegel that he could not understand its call for higher salaries.
"No-one is denying that the air traffic controllers have a highly responsible job," he said. "But they get paid well for it – with a yearly salary of 120,000 euros, 25 hours work a week and 40 – 50 days holiday."
The union denies that Ramsauer's estimates are accurate. "They should explain that to the families who have painstakingly saved up for their holidays and are now stuck," Ramsauer said.
He called on the union to return to the negotiating table. "I have all the understanding in the world for individual cases, but if every single industry just starts fighting for its own interests, it will erode our social cohesion," he said.
The 2,600 air traffic controllers want a 6.5 percent raise and more say in running the company. They have come under heavy criticism for threatening strike action in the middle of the holiday season, particularly from the tourist industry.
Dieter Hundt, president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), also warned that a strike could have wider implications for Germany's economy.