March 14, 2017 / 10:48 AM / 5 months ago

Union calls temporary truce in Berlin airport strike

BERLIN (Reuters) - Around 2,000 ground staff whose series of strikes at Berlin's airports have paralysed air travel to and from the German capital will not stage further walkouts this week, while their employers have proposed mediation to end the action.

The staff, whose roles include check-in, loading and unloading planes and directing aircraft on the tarmac, are employed by companies including WISAG, Aeroground, Ground Solution, AHS and Swissport Berlin.

On Tuesday the employers proposed mediation in a bid to end the walkouts, which have led to more than 1,800 flights being cancelled over three days, equivalent to almost all the flights operating out of Berlin's two airports on the strike days since Friday. On Tuesday 578 flights were grounded.

The latest walkout is due to end at 0400 GMT on Wednesday, and the union said on Tuesday there would be no strikes for the rest of the week to allow management to make a new offer.

The union wants an increase in pay for ground staff to 12 euros ($12.76) an hour from about 11 euros as part of a one-year collective agreement. Management first offered about 10 cents more an hour over four years and then improved that offer to an 8 percent increase over three years.

A man passes closed counters during a warning strike by ground services, security inspection and check-in staff at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany March 13, 2017.Hannibal Hanschke

"The positions are so far apart from each other that we think mediation is the only way to find an acceptable solution for both sides," a spokesman for the employers said on Tuesday.

Verdi strike leader Enrico Ruemker said the union must first examine the proposal.

A display panel shows cancelled flights during a warning strike by ground services, security inspection and check-in staff at Tegel airport in Berlin, Germany March 13, 2017.Hannibal Hanschke

Berlin's two airports are served by carriers including Air Berlin (AB1.DE), Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) , easyJet (EZJ.L) and Ryanair (RYA.I) , all of which have been hit by the strikes.

The union had earlier on Tuesday raised the prospect of further strikes without advance notice after saying budget airline Ryanair had brought in its own ground staff.

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs confirmed the carrier had brought in "a number of fully qualified and authorised ground handling staff" to dispatch Berlin aircraft.

($1 = 0.9401 euros)

Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Klaus Lauer; Editing by Alexander Smith

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