German security staff are on strike at three airports today (10 January), disrupting tens of thousands of passengers’ travel plans.
Staff at Düsseldorf, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart have all walked out after members of the Verdi union voted in favour of industrial action.
In total, 623 flights have been cancelled as a result, according to German news agency dpa: 350 at Düsseldorf, 142 at Stuttgart and 131 at Cologne-Bonn.
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Further airports are also affected, with 90 flights cancelled at Berlin Tegel and four at Berlin Schönefeld.
Some 100 flights are cancelled at Munich airport, although some of these were called off due to heavy snowfall in south Germany.
The UK’s Foreign Office is warning travellers to check before heading to the airport.
It updated its Germany travel advice this morning: “Many flights are delayed or cancelled due to security personnel strikes on Thursday 10 January at Cologne, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart airports; check with your airline before travelling to the airport.”
Verdi, which represents 23,000 airport security staff across Germany, is demanding a pay increase of €3, from €17 to €20 per hour – a rise of almost 18 per cent.
The strikes follow four unsuccessful collective bargaining negotiations between employers’ association BDLS and Verdi; the latest offer was a pay increase of 2 per cent per year with a two-year contract.
The BDLS offer amounts to an increase of around 40 cents per hour. “On this basis, a tariff compromise is not possible,” Verdi negotiator Benjamin Roscher said in a statement.
Hundreds of strikers demonstrated at Düsseldorf airport early on Thursday morning, holding signs demanding “more pay” and blowing whistles.
Most passengers had been informed of cancellations prior to the strike, according to a Cologne-Bonn airport spokesperson.
“Since the airlines had already cancelled flights in advance and informed their passengers, most of the affected passengers did not even arrive.
“The terminals are clearly emptier than usual,” they said.
Verdi has been criticised by the German tourism industry for bringing travel to a standstill.
“This is an unbelievable imposition for holidaymakers and business travellers – they are being taken hostage again”, Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association, told the Rheinische Post.
The strike comes after Ryanair cabin crew in Spain called off three strike days planned for this week.