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German union announces day of strikes at multiple airports

Published February 15, 2023last updated February 15, 2023

Frankfurt, Munich and other major travel hubs in Germany will come to a standstill on Friday during a one-day warning strike. Trade union Verdi says ongoing negotiations have not produced results.

Striking Verdi members at Munich airport during action in July 2022
Verdi has called for industrial action at key airports amid negotiation disputesImage: Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA Press/picture alliance

The German trade union Verdi said in the early hours of Wednesday morning that it was calling for a one-day strike at airports across the country on Friday.

The strike will see the airports in the major cities of Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Dortmund, Hanover and Bremen brought to a standstill for the whole day.

The announcement prompted two of Germany's busiest hubs, Frankfurt and Munich, to call off all passenger flights for Friday.

The warning strike comes ahead of a second round of negotiations between the union and public sector employers, set to take place on February 22 and 23.

Why are airport workers striking?

As well as public sector negotiations at the state and federal levels, negotiations are also planned for ground staff at the local level and for aviation security workers at the national level.

All three groups are subject to collective bargaining agreements. 

"The workers are jointly applying pressure on their respective employers because negotiations so far have been unable to produce results," Verdi deputy chair Christine Behle said in a statement.

Behle said that ground handling workers "need an attractive wage increase" to counter the "catastrophic labor shortage" that has been felt since the pandemic.

She also said that employers have refused to recognize the increase in bonuses that aviation security workers are entitled to as part of their collective bargaining agreement.

Strikes expected to have a big impact

The union warned that the industrial action will result in major delays and cancellations at German airports, but called for solidarity with the striking workers.

It also said that it had announced the strikes two days ahead of time to give travelers the chance to make alternative arrangements.

Aid deliveries to Turkey and Syria in the wake of the deadly earthquakes will be excluded from the strike action, the union added.

The strikes will also occur as world leaders and officials head to southern Germany for the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Friday. Verdi said those taking part at the MSC should still be able to land in Munich with the assistance of emergency services. 

Munich Airport tweeted on Wednesday evening that no regular passenger flights will take place on Friday due to the strike. 


Frankfurt Airport operator Fraport later also announced it would halt all regular passenger flights on Friday, bringing Germany's largest airport to a standstill. 

Verdi already held airport strikes in January at airports in Berlin — which affected some 300 flights — and Düsseldorf.

Airports are particularly vulnerable to strike action as there are several organized groups of workers who are necessary for continued operations.

Postal workers also took part in strikes in late January with Verdi demanding a 15% pay increase amid record profits. Some 16,700 people took part in the industrial action.

wd, ab/jsi (dpa, AFP)

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