Union calls for strike at Hamburg airport, adding to sector woes

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Protest of German trade union Verdi, in Berlin

BERLIN -German trade union Verdi has called on technical staff at Hamburg Airport to go on strike on Friday, just as school holidays in the region kick off, adding to the existing industry-wide crunch.

Airlines around the world had slashed jobs and other costs during the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded most flights, and have found themselves in a quandary as demand returned amid the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Verdi said on Wednesday that some 200 employees responsible for infrastructure maintenance at Germany’s fifth busiest airport would walk off the job for 24 hours to protest at the lack of a pay rise during the pandemic period.

A Hamburg Airport spokesperson said “a 24-hour strike is inappropriate” as its wage tariff negotiations with Verdi are still at a very early stage.

The union said it was demanding an 8.5% salary increase over 12 months for staff at Hamburg Airport subsidiary Real Estate Maintenance GmbH (RMH), who are responsible for maintenance of infrastructure including luggage handling machinery and runways.

The union said the company had offered a pay increase of 4% a year for two years.

School holidays in the neighbouring northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania begin on Friday, and Hamburg schools end for the summer on July 7.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer; Writing by Zuzanna Szymanska;Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)