April 27, 2016 / 5:41 AM / 2 years ago

German air passengers set for disruption as airport workers strike

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Airline passengers traveling through Germany are set for a day of disruption after public sector workers at airports started strikes in a bid to push for higher wages.

Passengers queue in Munich airport, Germany, April 27, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Lufthansa, Germany’s largest carrier, said it was cancelling almost 900 flights at airports including Frankfurt and Munich, equivalent to around 60 percent of its usual daily traffic.

The strike by workers, including ground services, security checks, fire fighting and check-in staff, are likely to severely impede operations at German airports and airport operator Fraport has warned it could take a day or two for services to return to normal.

Staff in Munich are holding an all-day strike on Wednesday, while in Frankfurt, Germany’s largest airport, the strike is due to end at 1300 GMT. Munich airport said around 700 of a scheduled 1,100 takeoffs and landings had been canceled.

Union Verdi represents a wide range of public sector workers across Germany, or 2.41 million people in total. Similar strikes have taken place this week at street cleaning services, schools and swimming pools.

The strikes, classed as “warnings” by the union, have drawn condemnation from aviation associations, especially as pay talks are already due to resume on Thursday.

Verdi chief Frank Bsirske defended the move in an interview with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, saying the strike was to speed up wage negotiations.

“I hope that this signal will be understood and that an agreement will be reached in the third round (of talks) on Thursday and Friday,” he said.

Verdi is asking for a 6 percent pay rise for its members. It rejected an offer of a 3 percent pay rise over 2 years in mid-April.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Maria Sheahan; Editing by Nick Macfie

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