Photographer: Daniel Roland/AFP via Getty Images

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German Airports Targeted in Widening Public Workers' Strikes

Updated on
  • Frankfurt, Munich hubs among four airports impacted on Tuesday
  • Nationwide stoppage also affected utilities, nursery schools

Germany’s public-sector workers expanded strikes across Europe’s biggest economy on Tuesday, with flights at airports including Frankfurt and Munich suffering severe disruption.

Ahead of a third round of wage talks on April 15, the Ver.di union is attempting to increase pressure on employers in support of a demand for a 6 percent pay raise, or at least 200 euros ($250) a month, over 12 months for 2.3 million government workers.

Public-sector workers strike at Frankfurt airport, April 10

Photographer: Daniel Roland/AFP via Gett Images

There were widespread delays and cancellations at Frankfurt and Munich airports, while Deutsche Lufthansa AG scrapped more than 800 of Tuesday’s 1,600 scheduled flights, affecting about 90,000 passengers. Cologne and Bremen airports were also hit by stoppages, as well as some local transport networks, city administrations, nursery schools, utilities and job centers.

“After two rounds of talks there is still no offer from employers,” Ver.di Chairman Frank Bsirske said Tuesday in a statement. “At long last, we want to break through this wall.”

Removing Stimulus

The nationwide walkouts, which Ver.di said involved 60,000 workers across eight federal regions, are due to continue through Friday, although the four airports will only be affected on Tuesday.

European Central Bank monetary policy makers are watching German collective-bargaining talks closely for signs that price pressure is finally on the rise in the euro area, allowing them to gradually remove monetary stimulus.

After weeks of stoppages, Germany’s IG Metall manufacturing-industry union struck a deal with employers in February that boiled down to average annual wage increases of roughly 3.7 percent in 2018 and 4 percent in 2019. Ver.di has been staging short-term walkouts, known as warning strikes, since early March.

Germany’s VKA local-authorities association predicted the strikes will fail in their goal of pressuring employers and will merely inconvenience the public. Meeting Ver.di’s demands might boost wages that are already “at a very good level” for lower-earning employees, but won’t create conditions for attracting more engineers or information-technology experts, association President Thomas Boehle said in an emailed statement.

Acceptable Offer

Separately, Ver.di organized a nationwide strike Tuesday at Deutsche Telekom AG in a push for a 5.5 percent wage increase over 12 months for the phone company’s 62,000 workers. The fourth and final round of wage talks is set for Wednesday and Thursday.

“If the Telekom employers are interested in a deal, they need to present an acceptable offer,” Ver.di negotiator Frank Sauerland said in a statement on Tuesday.

Workers at Deutsche Post AG voted on Tuesday to accept a pay offer covering around 130,000 employees, Ver.di said. The agreement includes a 3 percent raise effective Oct. 1, 2018 and a further 2.1 percent increase a year later, as well as a one-time payment of 250 euros backdated to April 1.

(Updates with union comment from fourth paragraph.)
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