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Eight German airports brace for strike action as hundreds of flights are cancelled

Tens of thousands of passengers have been warned to expect major disruption Tuesday as strike action is set to take place at eight German airports.

Eight German airports brace for strike action as hundreds of flights are cancelled
Union members picket outside Schönefeld airport last Monday during a so-called warning strike. Photo: DPA

Security staff at Frankfurt airport – Germany's largest – as well as Hamburg, Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Leipzig/Halle, Dresden and Erfurt airports are to down their tools in a series of coordinated industrial action, according to the Verdi union.

The union had already announced on Friday that security workers at Frankfurt would walk out from 2am until 8pm, but it had warned that more airports could join.

On Monday Frankfurt airport operator Fraport announced that airlines have already cancelled about 470 flights on Tuesday, meaning every third flight will be axed.

SEE ALSO: Frankfurt airport braces for 'massive' strike disruption Tuesday

Seven other airports across Germany will also be affected to varying degrees. According to the airport association ADV, at least 220,000 passengers will be hit by the planned action, reported DPA.

It marks another escalation in the union's standoff with employers after walkouts by security personnel at airports in Berlin, Cologne-Bonn, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart last week led to more than 800 flights being scrapped, affecting over 100,000 passengers.

'Severe restrictions'

Verdi warned of “very severe restrictions” in air traffic Tuesday. Officials said the strike will take place at different times across the different regions.

Verdi and the trade union DBB Beamtenbund and Tarifunion are negotiating with bosses to improve the wages and working conditions of the 23,000 aviation security employees at German airports. Verdi is pushing for a pay increase to €20 per hour for all of these employees.

Wages currently vary nationwide, with workers in some airports in eastern Germany earning around €14 hourly, compared with just over €17 for their peers in the capital and western parts of the country.

Employers' association BDLS meanwhile is offering increases of between two and 6.4 percent.

The next round of negotiations are due to take place on January 23rd.

Verdi's negotiator Benjamin Roscher said employers had not yet submitted a satisfactory offer.

The union's board member Ute Kittel added on Monday: “We are ready to negotiate and conclude with a good offer”.

'Care for passengers'

Meanwhile, Frankfurt airport is preparing for the strike by assembling a special care team. According to a spokesman for the airport operator Fraport, a group of employees will take care of passengers who cannot board their plane as planned.

This will include the provision of food, blankets and camp beds. The strike could largely paralyze the airport in Frankfurt, reported DPA.

“Even if we are well prepared, we recommend that travellers do not come to the airport during the strike,” the spokesman said. It would be better if people asked the airlines about rebooking or other alternatives.

Passengers who stop over in Frankfurt and have already come through security will not be affected if they remain in the departure lounge area. That makes up about 60 percent of passengers, said the Fraport spokesman.

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CHRISTMAS

Strikes hit Amazon in Germany in the run up to Christmas

Around 2,500 Amazon employees at seven sites across Germany were on strike on Tuesday and unions warned stoppages could continue up to Christmas.

Amazon parcel in factory
A parcel rolls along a conveyor belt at an Amazon packing facility in Gera, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Bodo Schackow

The strikes at so-called “fulfilment” centres, where Amazon prepares packages before delivery, began in two locations on Monday.

The Verdi union is calling on Amazon for an “immediate” salary increase of three percent this year, followed by a further 1.7 percent next year, in line with a collective agreement for the retail sector, to which the e-commerce giant does not adhere.

Amazon could not continue to “refuse wage increases that other companies in the sector pay”, Verdi retail head Orhan Akman said in a statement Monday.

Amazon, which operates 17 centres in Germany, argues it is a logistics company, a sector in which the terms of work are considered to be less burdensome for the employer.

Amazon said it did not expect the strike to have an impact on clients.

However, a Verdi spokesman said the stoppage could cause disruption, particularly in Amazon’s rapid-delivery “Prime” offering.

Strikes were likely to continue “until the end of the year”, the spokesman said, impacting on the busy Christmas shopping period.

READ ALSO: 

Verdi, which first called for strikes at Amazon in May 2013, organised demonstrations outside the fulfilment centres on Tuesday to protest poor working conditions.

Amazon — which has seen its business boom during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly shopped online — announced in September that it would open eight new centres in Germany, creating 3,000 jobs by 2022.

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