Air traffic controller strike averted
A strike by German air traffic controllers planned for Tuesday morning was averted at the last minute after the labour dispute was shifted to arbitration talks.
The GdF air traffic controllers’ union had called on its 5,500 members to walk off the job from 6 am to noon to push its demands with the government-owned Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) agency, which is responsible for air traffic control in Germany.
The strike was approved by a labour court late on Monday afternoon, but the DFS attempted to halt the walkout with a last-ditch legal appeal. After that failed, the agency immediately agreed to arbitration talks overnight. While these negotiations take place, there can be no strikes for the next four weeks.
This six-hour strike would have crippled German air traffic in the middle of the summer holiday season.
GdF accused the DSF of playing out its legal options at the cost of travelers during the high-season for flights, but the agency said it had no other option but to pursue the matter to the end in the courts.
The GdF said its air traffic controllers would be on time for work on Tuesday, but many airlines had already attempted to shift flights to minimize any disruptions.
A spokesman for Germany's largest air hub in Frankfurt said the airport was operating as usual, however, 30 to 40 flights had been delayed due to the strike threat. "It's almost normal aside from a few exceptions," the spokesman said.
The dispute revolves around pay and conditions for its members. The GdF is demanding a 6.5 percent pay rise in a 12-month pay deal. The DFS is reportedly offering a longer-term agreement, consisting of a 3.2 percent rise from August 1, followed by a 2 percent rise or at least a rise keeping pace with inflation from November 1, 2012.
According to the DFS, controllers currently earn between €72,000 and €130,000 per year.
Last week, an industrial court in Frankfurt forbade a strike by air traffic controllers, saying some of the union’s demands were unacceptable. The GdF then tinkered with its package before calling the second strike.