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Air traffic controllers threaten new strike

The Local · 6 Aug 2011, 14:43

Published: 06 Aug 2011 14:43 GMT+02:00

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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.

Story continues below…

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:53 August 6, 2011 by Scuba Steve
"with a yearly salary of 120,000 euros, 25 hours work a week and 40 ­ 50 days holiday."?!?! For real? And they're bitchin'??? Wow......
23:03 August 6, 2011 by alwaysmovin
I find it quite remarkable as an air traffic controller that Ramsauer....as transport minister and responsible for Air traffic services in German can be so misinformed. We work 37 hours a week and depending on the complexity/amount of movements in the sectors you work get a maximumof 40 days leave a year.... on average this is betwwen 32 and 37 days......it is basically performance related leave. Any of my german friends in other jobs work 40 hours a week and get 25 days leave...... mostly 30 days annual leave is general due to local agreement....... plus public holidays which in Bavaria mounts to 13.So in total 38 or 43 days !!!!. I realise that some of these are at the weekend but at least 6 of these are weekdays.

In any shift related, mental or physicaly challenging jobs extra holidays entitlements are normal no matter where you work....If I want to take xmas or any other 'normal holiday' off I have to take leave.

In relation to pay, yes we are well paid in relation to many other jobs but I have been in the job for 14 years and do not earn the salary stated.

Unfortunately the focus of the press is on the salary but in reality our grievance is with the the companies inability to provide enough staff yet force us to work increasing amounts of traffic. In Munich center alone we are short 80 people (we are a staff of 400) but we are constantly asked to work overloaded sectors and incresing amounts of overtime. The union agreed to the overtime but with a stipulation that the staffing problem would be in some way resolved before the end of the current agreement......which never happend...the fact that the current dispute has come to a head in the middle of the school holidays lies soley with the DFS not with the union.

I understand that many see us as over paid but I believe we are paid what we deserve and to be honest I cannot agree to work the extra overtime hours the company is requesting. After 5 days work (in summer espicially) I am mentally drained and do not have the capacity to safely do my work for an extra hour or two. I am already doing quite a lot of overtime 'to keep things ticking over' but am at the stage that I believe it it is in no-ones best interst that I do more.

I am not asking for pity but am asking for respect for the job that I do and the responsililty it entails......and also ask that people keep an open mind regarding what they read in the press. I DO NOT WANT TO STRIKE but I also do not go to work with the feeling that I am too tired to make one of the hundreds of decisions I make every day which may have very serious consequences for you the flying public for whom I am ultimitely responsible...
00:34 August 7, 2011 by wood artist
Regardless of which version of pay and benefits you believe, there are a number of facts that remain.

First, these folks have a job, and many do not.

Second, while their job clearly has tremendous responsibilities, they knew that going in. In addition, they are clearly paid A BUNCH to do that job.

Third, compared to working conditions for many people, and I'm speaking here primarily of Americans, the idea of a more than 30 days of holidays is absurd!

In short, you people have no clue how lucky you are, and the general public, while understanding the stress of the job, have darn little pity for you. To want MORE when most folks are happy to have ANY job is just ludicrous.

If it wouldn't be such a burden on society, I'd simple say "go ahead and strike" and them maybe you'd learn something about what the rest of us face every day. It's called REALITY!

00:41 August 7, 2011 by DanielF
you really have no clue do you? the previous poster explained so clearly, lucidly and rationally his reasonable grievances and problems, and you somehow manage to retort with this drivel? The point about working too many hours in this time of job is well made....and I don't know how somebody can not understand that. Unbelievable.
01:56 August 7, 2011 by catjones
wood artist...now there's a logic. You should eat a near starvation diet because there are people starving in the world. News: Your reality is not the only reality.
06:04 August 7, 2011 by Shirazz
Like I said in my comment on the previous similar article, it's dangerous to overload an already overloaded work hours especially on those who are responsible for people's safety.

More so when those involved admit it themselves of the difficulties and danger. It's a warning sign that should not be ignored.

Nevertheless, if money is not the major concern that is leading up to the strike, then stress on that.

Shout it out loud and clear, so there's no misunderstanding.

Media loves catchy headlines, give them a precise one. Then the public will be with you.
02:29 August 8, 2011 by theKirk
There are always two or more versions to any story. Generally, both sides have legitimate concerns. The real issue however, is one of safety and not inconvenience, salary or vacations. If the ATC employment situation is untenable, then management needs to make responsible decisions in the interest of the both the travelling public and the well-being of their ATC employees.
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