German public sector strike grounds more than 1,200 flights

27th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Walkouts by members of Germany's biggest services sector union, Verdi, led to the cancellation of more than 1,200 flights into and out of the country's main airports on Wednesday, with flag carrier Lufthansa among the hardest hit.

Six airports are being targetted by Verdi members working in air safety control, ground services, at check-in counters and in engineering workshops at the airports.

They are so-called "warning" strikes intended to increase the pressure in a battle the union is fighting over public sector wages with local and federal governments.

In Munich alone, 740 flights were scrapped a spokesman for the airport told AFP.

And in Frankfurt, more than 390 flights were cancelled, a spokesman for airport operator Fraport said.

More than 90 flights were cancelled taking off or landing at Cologne/Bonn airport and 54 in Duesseldorf, and passengers faced delays at the airports of Hanover and Dortmund.

Germany's biggest airline Lufthansa took the brunt of the strike with more than 900 flights cancelled and 87,000 passengers grounded.

A spokesman for rival Air Berlin said that 87 domestic flights were hit.

Lufthansa has been repeatedly hit by strikes over the past year in wage disputes of its own, with both pilots and cabin staff staging a number of walkouts over pay and early retirement provisions.

It slammed the stoppages by Verdi as unacceptable, insisting that it was not involved in the dispute this time.

Wednesday's strike follows similar stoppages Verdi has recently organised in other institutions, including hospitals, town halls and child care centres.

Verdi is demanding pay increase of six percent for more than two million public sector works around the country.

Unions and management could also be on confrontation course in other sectors, with giant engineering sector union IG Metall demanding wage increases of five percent for its members.

France was meanwhile set to see industrial action hit flights Thursday with the civil aviation authority DGAC saying carriers should prepare to reduce services out of Orly south of Paris by 20 percent after the CGT union threatened insudtrial action over controversial labour reforms.

A spokesman said the Charles de Gaulle main hub north of Paris would see delays rather than cancellations.

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© 2016 AFP

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