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Germany

Ryanair strike-breakers at Berlin airports violate safety standards, unions say

Striking workers grounded almost 600 flights on Tuesday, but Ryanair says they are holding the capital hostage. It has flown in 20 strikebreakers from Ireland to keep its flights going.

Budget airliner Ryanair flew in strikebreakers to Berlin's Schönefeld airport who then violated safety standards, union officials claimed late Tuesday.

Groundworkers at Berlin's two main airports stayed on strike for a second day on Tuesday, canceling almost 580 flights. It was the latest in a series of industrial disputes calling for a pay-rise.

An exasperated Ryanair flew in approximately 20 ground handling staff from Dublin, ensuring the majority of its Berlin flights continued.

Verdi union strike leader Enrico Rümker said the workers lacked the proper safety checks.

Union officials shared photos of Ryanair employees wearing jeans and sneakers, which is said constituted a substantial violation of safety procedures.

The Green party in the Berlin city government weighed in, telling local daily "Berliner Morgenpost": "If it turns out that the occupational health and safety rules were not respected, this is an absolute no-go."

Empty check-in hall at Berlin airports

Hundreds of flights were canceled in the two-day strike

'Union claims are false'

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs denied the claims of safety violations in a statement to Deutsche Welle.

"In order to prevent further disruption to our customers, we (along with other airlines) positioned a number of fully qualified and authorized ground handling staff to dispatch our Berlin aircraft," Jacobs told DW.

"These union claims are false and their members have no business accessing the airport and ramp when they are not working.

"It's a disgrace that Berlin customers and visitors are having their travel plans disrupted by tiny numbers of unions, who are holding Germany's capital city to ransom and we call on the German government to intervene and prevent any further disruption."

Union representatives said they would not strike for the rest of the week, but warned that the use of strike-breakers meant they may not announce future strikes ahead of time. Previously they announced strikes 18 hours before they came into force.

aw/rt (AFP, dpa)

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