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Germany strikes: Local transport at a standstill with Hamburg airport also affected

An empty Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe AG (EVAG) streetcar stop is pictured in Erfurt, Germany, Friday Feb. 2, 2024.
An empty Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe AG (EVAG) streetcar stop is pictured in Erfurt, Germany, Friday Feb. 2, 2024. Copyright Martin Schutt/dpa via AP
Copyright Martin Schutt/dpa via AP
By Ruth Wright with AP
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Employees have downed tools over working conditions.


Local buses, trams and subway trains are cancelled in 80 cities across Germany today, as well as disrpution at Hamburg airport.

Off the back of a strike that downed planes yesterday, transport employees walked off the job in the country's third transport-related strike in two weeks.

Travellers will be impacted in different ways, depending on which city they are in. 

In Berlin, workers with the local transport authority walked off the job until 10 am. In Hamburg, Cologne, Hannover and elsewhere, the strike was to last all day. Bavaria, where there are no negotiations at present, was the only region not affected.

Hamburg airport warns passengers to check before travelling to the airport

Hamburg airport announced: "The trade union Ver.di is calling for a full-day warning strike by ground handling services on Friday, 02.02.24. Passengers are asked to keep up to date with their flight status and to contact their airline, as possible disruptions cannot be ruled out."

The service providers Groundstars, Stars and Cats are affected. According to Ver.di, their employees are responsible for loading and unloading the aircraft, providing technical equipment, baggage handling, aircraft de-icing, and cleaning aircrafts’ interiors.

Verdi hopes the strike will emphasise the demands of the approximately 900 ground handling employees working at Hamburg airport. These include an inflation compensation bonus of €3,000 and an increase in wages.

Why is the strike happening?

The Ver.di service workers' union called for a “warning strike,” a common tactic in German contract negotiations, on Monday. Its deputy chair, Christine Behle, said that “the time has now come to exert more pressure on employers” as talks on new pay contracts for about 90,000 people employed by over 130 local transport operators have failed to make progress.

The dispute centres on demands for better working conditions, such as a shorter working week and extra compensation days for shift and night work.

Coinciding contract negotiations in the rail, airport and local transport sectors have made for a frustrating few weeks for German travellers and commuters.

The German railway system is involved in a separate dispute that centres on a train drivers' union's demand for a shorter working week.

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