German airport staff kick off countrywide strikes

Berlin, April 21 (IANS) Aviation security staff in Germany kicked off a countrywide wave of strikes, bringing operations at Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Cologne/Bonn airports to a virtual standstill.
At least 100,000 travelers have been affected by the cancellation of 700 flights, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the German Airports Association (ADV).
“This is bitter news for all air travelers,” ADV CEO Ralph Beisel told the news agency on Thursday.
Ground staff at airports, together with other public sector workers in Germany, are demanding 10.5 per cent more pay, with a minimum increase of 500 euros ($548) a month. “Work at airports must become more attractive,” said Wolfgang Pieper from the trade union Verdi.
A proposal by an arbitration commission, which includes inflation compensation of 3,000 euros and a wage increase of 5.5 per cent, has so far been ignored by both sides. Nevertheless, it will be the basis for a fourth round of negotiations on Saturday.
Traffic disruptions in Germany are expected to intensify: Stuttgart airport will be hit by strikes on Friday while rail traffic will also be restricted by walkouts until at least midday. Rail operator Deutsche Bahn expects “massive disruptions,” with trains affected nationwide.
Traffic in Germany has already been hit several times by collective bargaining strikes in recent months. At the end of March, a nationwide strike paralyzed train, bus, and air traffic, and also affected freight services.
Germany’s energy sector will also be affected by collective bargaining strikes on Thursday. Employees are demanding 13 per cent more pay, or at least 550 euros more a month.
The strikes are mainly directed at Germany’s largest energy supplier E.ON. According to Verdi, there will be no power cuts, nor is the safety of nuclear power plants at risk. “We have concluded emergency service agreements for every sector,” said the union. (1 euro = $1.10)

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