Security screeners began a one-day walkout on Thursday at 11 of Germany’s busiest airports, bringing departures to a virtual standstill, scuttling travel plans for an expected 200,000 people and adding to the chaos caused by public sector strikes.
Airports serving Berlin, Hamburg, and Stuttgart canceled all of their departures in anticipation of the work stoppage, while others — including Frankfurt’s airport, the biggest in Germany — were trying to keep some flights in the air but warned of significant delays and cancellations.
“The work of airport security staff must remain financially attractive so that the urgently needed skilled workers can be recruited and retained,” said Wolfgang Pieper, a lead negotiator for Verdi, the public sector union behind the strike. Screeners are demanding an hourly raise of 2.80 euros, or roughly $3, a 14 percent increase for a starting salary.
The federal association of aviation security businesses, the B.D.L.S., which represents employers, called the demands “utopian.” It has offered a 4 percent increase this year, followed by a 3 percent rise next year.
The one-day strike is just one of many recent labor actions that have affected life in Germany, where unionized workers have been clamoring to secure higher wages in the face of inflation. The minimum wage was raised to 12.41 euros per hour last month, but most unionized jobs pay significantly more.
There was some relief for travelers this week as train drivers agreed to return to work on Monday, ending a six-day strike a day early. The striking engineers managed to bring rail travel to a halt, with only one in five intercity trains in operation.
On Tuesday, 5,000 doctors working at university hospitals across the country went on strike, demanding better wages and working conditions.
When airport workers are back at their posts on Friday morning, travelers and commuters will have to face a new obstacle: Public transport workers will walk off the job in protest over their wages, stopping trams, subways, and buses during the morning commute, until 10 a.m.
Verdi, the union that is leading the airport screeners’ strike, is also pushing for higher wages for ground crew and service personnel working for Lufthansa and a chain of regional airports.
For people who had been planning to travel by air on Thursday, Lufthansa warned of reduced service and offered train tickets to travelers who had booked domestic flights to and from Frankfurt.
The airports serving Munich — Germany’s second busiest airport — and Nurnberg were not affected, because security screeners there have different contracts.
“In Germany, we see strike announcements almost daily to the detriment of mobility and the economy,” said Ralph Beisel, the director of the airport association ADV. “It has to stop,” he added.