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It is a bad day for air travellers in Germany with hundreds of flights cancelled amid a strike by baggage handlers and other ground staff.

A pay dispute prompted the half-day walkout by the Verdi union, part of broader industrial action that has hit other public services in recent weeks.
Airports had been spared, until now.

“What we are demanding is well known,” said union activist Hakan Gülcicek at Cologne-Bonn airport.
“We want to recover all of the wage losses we have seen in real terms over the past few years at the airports, through strong negotiations of course but also with a safety bonus because since September 11 we have had more and more responsibilities.”

Frankfurt, Germany’s biggest airport, has been hit as have other hubs including Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Munich. Stranded passengers are not happy.

“I don’t agree with the strike,” said passenger Carsten Thun in Frankfurt. “They can solve the problem by other means. It is simply sad.”

“I think the strike is really bad,” added fellow Frankfurt passenger Max Schitko. “Thankfully, we are not affected but if we had been then I would be really angry. The people who have to sit around and suffer, maybe for a day or two, they have really drawn the short straw.”

Verdi is pushing for a 6.5 per cent pay rise. Employers offered 3.3 per cent, a suggestion that failed to get off the ground. Fresh talks are due to start on Wednesday.

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