Tens of thousands of flight passengers have to prepare for cancellations and delays in Germany on Friday. The Verdi union announced on Wednesday night that it would then paralyze the airports in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Hanover and Bremen for the whole day – thus expanding the collective bargaining dispute in the public sector at airports. The employees of the operating companies are often paid according to the collective agreements of the municipalities.

The warning strike is scheduled to begin early Friday morning and end on Saturday night. Aid deliveries to the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria are said to be exempt from the strike.

With the now continued warning strikes, the employees want to give emphasis to their demands in the ongoing collective bargaining dispute between the federal and local governments. Further warning strikes have been announced in Hesse, Baden-W├╝rttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, among others, before the second round of collective bargaining on February 22nd and 23rd.

In the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, Verdi and the civil servants’ association dbb are demanding 10.5 percent more income, but at least 500 euros more for the approximately 2.5 million employees in the federal and local public sector. The term of the new collective agreement is to be twelve months. The employers have so far rejected the claims.

Verdi Deputy Chairwoman Christine Behle said there was still a catastrophic labor shortage among ground handling workers. In order to change this situation, an attractive wage increase must take place for them. Aviation security employees are entitled to an increase in the surcharges in the collective wage agreements. In the “Handelsblatt” (Wednesday) she warned: “We urgently need better working conditions for employees in aviation, otherwise the next summer of chaos threatens.”

“Inflation, high energy and food prices are driving most employees into an insecure situation,” said Behle, according to the Verdi release, adding: “Many no longer know how to pay their rent and fill the fridge. They need significantly more money to make a living.” Employers should see that and react accordingly.

According to the union, the strike will have a strong impact, especially in domestic air traffic – from delays and cancellations to the partial standstill of air traffic. Behle pointed out that aid deliveries for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria would not be on strike. Many aid deliveries would also be made via the THW’s center for foreign logistics in Mainz.

The general manager of the airport association ADV, Ralph Beisel, sharply criticized the announced warning strike. A few days before the second round of collective bargaining, Verdi is exposing German air traffic to an unprecedented escalation, he said. If there were a day-long strike at seven of the ten largest German airports on Friday, this would no longer have anything to do with a warning strike. “An entire country is to be cut off from international air traffic in an unreasonable way.” The victims are hundreds of thousands of passengers, both private and business travellers, as well as parts of air freight and goods logistics.

In January, Verdi had already struck at the airports in Berlin and D├╝sseldorf in two other collective bargaining conflicts. In the NRW capital it was about a new contract with the ground handler Aviapartner, in Berlin the employees of the operating company, the ground handling services and the aviation security controllers went on strike. An agreement was reached in Berlin after the warning strike.

Air traffic is extremely prone to strikes because of the fragmented service providers, because many small, safety-relevant groups are powerful enough to bring operations to a standstill. Basically, the strike by the airport fire brigade is enough to shut down the entire operation.

In the past, for example, the forces at passenger control, the pilots, technicians, flight attendants, apron controllers or the ground staff have gone on strike. They are partly represented by divisional unions. Among other things, Verdi has access to the flight infrastructure via the public service collective agreement at issue here, according to which many employees of the airport companies are paid.

The last major warning strike with similar consequences was several years ago: In April 2018, hundreds of flights across Germany had to be canceled because collective bargaining for municipal and federal employees was not progressing. In eight federal states, tens of thousands of employees went down their work during a warning strike. In addition to airports, urban transport, daycare centers, clinics, administrations and indoor swimming pools were also affected in many places.