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Strike by security staff at most major German airports cancels hundreds of flights

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BERLIN: Security workers at most of Germany’s major airports walked off the job on Thursday in a one-day strike to step up pressure in a pay dispute, prompting widespread flight cancellations.
The ver.di union, which announced the walkout on Tuesday afternoon, called on workers to strike at 11 airports: Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Hannover, Dresden, Bremen and Erfurt.
Airports in Bavaria — including Munich, the country’s second-busiest — were not affected.
All departures for the day from Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart were cancelled before the strike started. About four-fifths of flights in Cologne and one-third in Duesseldorf also were cancelled.
In Frankfurt, the operator of Germany’s busiest airport said security checkpoints outside the transit area would remain closed. It advised passengers planning to start their journeys there not to come to the airport. However, there were connections for transferring passengers; Lufthansa planned to operate much of its planned schedule, including intercontinental flights.
Airport operator group ADV estimated that about 1,100 flights in total would be cancelled or delayed, affected some 200,000 passengers, German news agency dpa reported.
Three rounds of labor negotiations have failed to produce a pay agreement for some 25,000 security workers. Ver.di is seeking a raise of 2.80 euros per hour ($ 3.03) for all employees and calling for bonuses for overtime work to kick in from the first extra hour.
An employers’ association says it offered a 4 per cent raise this year and 3 per cent next year, as well as concessions on when overtime bonuses kick in. The talks are due to resume on February 6.
Short “warning strikes” are a common tactic in German contract negotiations. In a separate dispute, ver.di has called for strikes on Friday on local public transportation systems in much of the country.
A bitter dispute over working hours and pay resulted in full-scale strikes last month that affected Germany’s passenger trains. The GDL union, which represents many of the country’s train drivers, on Monday ended a five-day strike earlier than originally planned after agreeing to resume talks with the state-owned main railway operator, Deutsche Bahn.

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