Strikes ground flights at German airports, railway walkouts to follow

BERLIN (Reuters) -Industrial action grounded dozens of flights at two major German airports on Monday as security workers and ground services employees in the capital, Berlin, and in Hamburg held a one-day strike over pay.

Berlin-Brandenburg airport cancelled all departures and said some landings would also be affected after the Verdi union called security workers out on strike until midnight (2200 GMT). Roughly 240 flights had been scheduled to take off.

As in other countries, Europe’s largest economy has seen repeated disruption from strike action as workers press for more pay and better working conditions to tackle a surge in the cost of living.

While public sector workers agreed a wage deal with employers in a separate dispute over the weekend, bringing some respite, Verdi announced a further wave of rail strikes in five federal states to take place on Wednesday.

Employees from the private Aviation Handling Services Hamburg (AHS), who handle check-in, boarding and lost and found for a number of airlines including Lufthansa at Hamburg airport, also called a 24-hour strike at short notice.

Neither arrivals nor flights serviced by other companies were expected to be affected, Hamburg airport said. AHS was due to handle 84 of Monday’s 160 departures.

Last week, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart airports were hit by strikes.

Ralph Beisel, chief executive of the airport association ADV, said unions were taking their right to carry out warning strikes prior to arbitration to absurd lengths.

In a separate statement on Monday, Verdi announced strike action for 5,000 railway workers who are pressing for a pay increase of 550 euros ($605) a month.

“The employees and their families have been hit hard by the recent price increases,” said Verdi negotiator Volker Nuss. “It needs a significant increase to absorb the rising costs.”

($1 = 0.9088 euros)

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Ilona Wissenbach; Writing by Madeline Chambers, Miranda Murray and Matthias Williams; Editing by Susan Fenton, Rachel More, Kevin Liffey and Christina Fincher)