German strikes see planes grounded

by Ella FAIRCHILD on March 28, 2012

Thousands of travellers were left stranded yesterday as ground staff went on strike at German airports in a dispute over pay. On Tuesday, more than 400 flights were cancelled by Lufthansa alone, mainly at Frankfurt, the country’s biggest airport.

The strikes are part of wider walk-outs seen across the public sector in advance of further talks today. According to a spokesman, Frankfurt Airport saw around a third of its flights cancelled, while Hannover, Cologne-Bonn, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Munich were also affected.

The two million members of Verdi, the Service workers’ union, want a 6.5 per cent pay rise. The union has already rejected the offer of a 3.3 per cent pay rise over 24 months, but more negotiations are expected to start today.

Verdi claims that public sector workers’ pay has been squeeze by government cost cutting and that they are undervalued.  Frank Bsirske, the head of Verdi, said he hoped the strikes would act as a warning and accelerate talks between the union and the government. He added that workers have less money than the year before and are struggling to pay for rent, food and fuel.

Mr Bsirske went on to say that the negotiations with the government are at a crossroads and that further strike action may be needed if talks fail. The union claims that workers have been suffering since they agree to take cuts in their living standards in 2009 to help the global financial crisis.

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