Security staff at various airports across Germany went for a work stoppage on Monday and Tuesday, March 14 and 15, demanding a hike in their hourly wages. Under the leadership of the Verdi trade union, the workers staged strikes at airports in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Bremen, Hannover, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Munich, and other places, causing large-scale disruption in the flight schedules and leading to cancellation of hundreds of flights. The workers went on strike after negotiations between the union and the Federal Association of Aviation Security companies (BDLS) for wage hike and pay parity in different sectors failed.
During the negotiations, Verdi demanded an increase in the hourly wage rate by at least EUR 1 (USD 1.10) for around 20,000 airport security staff across the country. BDLS refused to agree to the union’s demand, calling it ‘utopian’ and based on “the currently increased inflation rate and higher energy costs” due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It also said that the economic health of the industry is not good as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Verdi retorted that the demand for the wage increase is based on good economic forecasts and had already been presented to the authorities in December last year.
Wolfgang Pieper from Verdi told Junge Welt that airports have partly outsourced their security services to external security companies, and the majority of those companies are now organized in the BDLS. According to him, the disparity in wages between airport security staff in different sectors – cargo, passenger control, boarding gates, aircraft security and documentation – and the existing regional differences in wages is also a major concern for the union.
Verdi has accused the BDLS of not keeping the promises made in the last collective agreement from three years ago, in which BDLS promised to undertake the wage adjustments that are the subject of the current negotiations.
According to a report by Deutsche Welle, 130 of the 818 flights planned for Tuesday at the Frankfurt airport were canceled and only passengers with layovers were allowed to pass through security checks there. Meanwhile, the airport association (ADV) has attacked the union and the striking workers for damaging the “good image of Germany as a travel destination” at a time when the “airports battered by corona-related losses are currently passing through the trough of the crisis.”