Disaster has been avoided, as German Air Traffic Controllers just moments ago called off a strike planned for tomorrow after a court ruled they could not strike earlier in the day. The move comes too late for some carriers, which have preemptively rescheduled or cancelled flights, but will avoid the crippling of German airspace that many had predicted.
Taking a cue from their grossly overpaid Spanish counterparts, 96% of German ATC Union (GDF) voted to strike from 0600-1200 CET tomorrow across all German airports over their compensation packages and “bad” working conditions. They want a 6.5% bump in pay over the next 12 months linked to their number of years of service, while rejecting government offers of a 3.2% plus a one-time payment this year, followed by an increase of at least 2% next year.
German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer captured my thoughts nicely when he wondered how a 25-hour work week, 50 days of annual leave, and an average pay of about €120,000 ($171,500) could be described as bad working conditions.
The Transport Ministry sued the GDF to prevent the strike and late this afternoon, a German court blocked the proposed strike, stating it was “contrary to the social peace.” With 600,000 people traveling through German airports each day and thousands of Germans embarking upon carefully planned summer holidays, the court’s reasoning may have been justified.
The GDF has appealed and reserves the right to strike tomorrow if a court rules overnight that the strike can continue, but even if given the green light, it now seems more likely they would hold off on striking till another time.
Strikes tend to be very orderly in Germany, but it would have been a disaster at the airport tomorrow if 1,000+ flights were cancelled or diverted to cities outside Germany. Hopefully, the two sides can settle and the GDF can avoid a high-stakes temper tantrum that will turn more Germans against them.