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10 Jan, 2019 09:29

Thousands stranded as security staff strike hits 3 major German airports

Thousands stranded as security staff strike hits 3 major German airports

Hundreds of flights have been canceled as security personnel go on a full-day strike in Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Stuttgart airports over a wage dispute. More than 100,000 travelers are expected to be affected by the disruptions.

The strike in Stuttgart Airport in southwest Germany began at 3am local time on Thursday. Similar strikes at the Cologne and Dusseldorf airports, both in North Rhine-Westphalia, have been in effect since midnight. All three airports are major hubs in terms of passenger traffic and cargo delivery, while the cities they are based in are among Germany’s most populous.

The massive labor action has led to serious disruptions in flight schedules. In Stuttgart, 125 of the 270 takeoffs and landings were canceled. Around 350 out of 570 flights in Dusseldorf and 130 out of nearly 200 flights in Cologne had to be canceled as well.

The airports affected warned passengers the day before the strike that flights might be canceled. They also advised people to brace for longer waiting times. Travelers were asked to arrive as soon as possible and bring only “minimal” sets of hand luggage to speed up the check-in process.

Cologne Airport tweeted a photo showing a completely empty terminal on Thursday morning. “An unusual scene,” the airport’s wrote, noting that the passengers whose flights were canceled didn’t bother to arrive.

Overall, up to 110,000 passengers are expected to be affected by the strike, according to the German Airports Association (ADV).

The strike was initiated by Verdi, a trade union encompassing around 23,000 flight safety workers. They demand the minimum hourly wage be increased to €20 ($22.79) for all staff working in passenger, cargo and goods control at all German airports. The demand was rejected by the airport security companies.

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The union said it would stage the walkout because the employers ignored the previous four-hour ‘warning strike’ on Monday. On January 6, the security staff temporarily stopped performing their duties in Berlin’s Tegel and Schoenefeld airports. It led to dozens of flights being canceled.

The ADV blasted Verdi for carrying out a full-day strike on Thursday, branding the action as “irresponsible.” The walkout not only damaged the traffic at the nation’s leading airports but tarnished the “image of Germany,” the airports association said.

The next round of wage negotiations between Verdi and the security companies are scheduled for January 23.

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