Over 1.3 Million Public Service Employees Want Better Pay
Public service workers throughout
Germany made good on their threats to walk off the job Tuesday,
leading to turmoil at airports throughout the country, and
thousands of passengers stuck at the gate.
The Associated Press reports hundreds of flights were affected
by the walkout by thousands of baggage handlers, ticket counter
workers, and ground crew workers represented by the ver.di union.
Airport firefighters also reportedly joined in the strike, as a
show of solidarity with other public service workers.
At Frankfurt International Airport alone, over 2,000 workers
struck Wednesday morning, according to union rep Frank Bsirske.
"Either the public employers make an offer with clear salary
increases and without increased work hours, or we will show them
our strength," Bsirske said at a rally.
Bus drivers and subway operators also walked off the job early
Ver.di has called for an eight percent raise for Germany's 1.3
million public service workers, retroactive to January 1. The
government has countered with a five-percent raise offer, to be
implemented over the next two years... and accompanied by a longer
work week. The union trounced that plan.
Over 100 flights were cancelled Wednesday in Munich, according
to spokesman Peter Pruemm. Another 69 flights were cancelled in
Hamburg, with similar effects felt at airports in Duesseldorf,
Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Saarbruecken, Cologne-Bonn, Dortmund and
German flag carrier Lufthansa said in cancelled 142 flights
throughout the country, though none of its transcontinental flights
The union wants better pay for its workers, saying the wealth
from Germany's recent economic upswing is distributed unfairly. In
recent weeks, automaker BMW AG and mobile phone manufacturer Nokia
have announced layoffs, despite healthy profits.
"We can hold out for a very, very long time," Frank Baesler, the
ver.di representative in Berlin, told RBB radio.