Hundreds of flights have been canceled at Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports today due to a one-day warning strike. At the largest airport in North Rhine-Westphalia in the state capital, 89 of 330 take-offs and landings that were actually planned should take place in an emergency, and thus only about every fourth flight movement, as the airport announced.
Cologne/Bonn Airport came to an almost complete standstill: It was assumed there that only 2 out of 136 flight movements could take place today. In the run-up to the warning strikes, the airports had called on affected passengers to contact airlines or tour operators.
The terminals remained empty
Around 15,000 travelers were originally expected at Cologne/Bonn Airport alone. "Passengers were informed in advance by their airlines and did not even start their journey to the airport. Apart from a few passengers, the terminals are almost empty this morning," said Cologne/Bonn Airport. Düsseldorf Airport did not provide any information on the number of passengers affected. "The airlines have informed their passengers in advance about the flight cancellations, so that they do not even arrive at the airport. The situation in the terminal is calm," it said here too.
The Verdi and Komba unions had called for the warning strikes. The background to this is the negotiations for employees in the public sector at the federal and municipal level, as well as the nationwide negotiations for employees in aviation security. Already on February 17, warning strikes by Verdi at seven German airports caused thousands of flight cancellations. At that time, several airports had to stop regular passenger operations. According to union information, the two largest NRW airports were excluded from the campaign at the time with a view to aid deliveries to Turkey.
Verdi expects the negotiations to move
"We have a good strike participation rate," said Peter Büddicker from Verdi on the warning strikes at Düsseldorf Airport. In the area of aviation security, i.e. passenger controls and freight controls, it is over 90 percent. Özay Tarim from Verdi made a similar statement about the participation in the strike at Cologne/Bonn Airport. Participation in the warning strikes is high. This is reflected in the high number of flight cancellations and is a clear message from employees to employers for collective bargaining. "We expect movement at the negotiating table, otherwise we'll see each other again soon," said Tarim.
At Cologne/Bonn Airport, the first work stoppages began late Sunday evening and in Düsseldorf at 3 a.m. today, as Verdi announced. In Cologne, there had been legal disputes between the airport and Verdi about the staffing of the airport fire brigade. In the end, both sides agreed that it must include 24 emergency workers during the warning strike. In Düsseldorf there was an emergency service agreement for the airport fire brigade, the Komba union said.
In the most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, there were also warning strikes in many other areas of public life today - for example on buses and light rail, in daycare centers and municipal offices. In the Rhineland, the greater Cologne area and the greater Bonn area were focal points. But there were also warning strikes in other parts of the country. Verdi is planning warning strikes in other NRW cities for tomorrow.
The collective bargaining round will continue at the end of March
The employers had presented an offer during the nationwide negotiations for employees in the federal and local governments. It includes a pay increase of five percent in two steps and one-off payments totaling 2,500 euros. The unions rejected the offer as insufficient. Verdi and the civil servants' association are demanding 10.5 percent more income, but at least 500 euros more per month. Collective bargaining is scheduled to continue on March 27th.
Separately from the collective bargaining dispute in the public sector, Verdi is pushing for better pay for employees of private-sector companies at airports - this is about the people who work on passenger, luggage and freight controls. In these collective bargaining talks, Verdi is demanding higher surcharges, for example for Sunday and night work.