Strike action by about 200 apron controllers – members of the GdF trade union – at Frankfurt Airport has been extended into a second day. Almost 300 flights are now reported to have been cancelled and the action is due to continue until 22:00 today (Friday February 17).
The GdF union is handling wage negotiations with air operator Fraport for the employees working in Frankfurt’s apron control towers, the traffic operations center, as well as staff involved in supervision activities directly on the apron. The union has called for the walkout following failed wage negotiations with Fraport.
Fraport says it has trained extra staff to replace striking workers and hopes that at least half of scheduled flights will continue during the walkout.
The German flag-carrier Lufthansa has sacrificed a significant section of its short-haul flying programme to safeguard its long-haul services.
Herbert Mai, Fraport AG’s Executive Board member for labour relations said: “We find this strike threat incomprehensible. The union remains completely intransigent and irresponsible in its demands for high, double-digit pay increases and other adjustments for working hours and special benefits ranging between 50 and 70%.”
Fraport also criticised GdF’s information policy, stating that the union has been, “intentionally spreading incorrect information to distract from the actual critical issues of the dispute” and that, “it is the union that has not shown any real willingness to find a compromise solution up to now”.
Fraport said it had largely accepted GdF’s demands for apron control employees. Referring to other staff groups in the traffic operations center and those supervising activities on the airport ramp, the company said union demands were: “extremely high in relation to comparable activities in other areas – and thus cannot be implemented.”
More strikes are threatened for next week.
Reuters news agency reported that Markus Siebers, who is in charge of the union’s contract negotiations, said: “We’re not going to hold back.” If no settlement is reached the union will “definitely” strike next week, but it will continue to give Fraport 24 hours’ notice of strike action.
The GdF union wants a new four-year contract to include higher pay, fewer working hours and improved conditions, while Fraport seeks six-year contracts and says that the GdF’s demands are excessive.
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