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Geneva airport staff call off strike action

Passengers queue at Geneva airport on a day of strike action.
Passengers queue at Geneva airport on a day of strike action. © Keystone / Martial Trezzini

Passport control and security workers at Geneva airport have ended their industrial action following a day of flight disruptions.

The walkout of around 1,000 airport employees over new pay conditions started at 4am on Friday and was initially due to end at 10am before being extended.

+ Airline facing “unprecedented” strike disruption

The threat of another day’s walkout on Saturday was averted after interventions by politicians of the canton of Geneva, which owns the airport.

The dispute over new pay terms was cooled by an agreement to put off the changes for a year, until 2025. In the meantime, a joint commission will thrash out the finer details of the new package.

All flights at Switzerland’s second-busiest airport were cancelled between 6am and 10am, affecting some 8,000 passengers. More flights were delayed or cancelled on Friday with managers and union leaders blaming each other.

“Of course it’s unfortunate but we ask passengers to direct their anger towards the airport management that is responsible for this mess,” Jamshid Pouranpir, union secretary of the Public Services Union VPOD, told the Reuters news agency.

But Pierre Bernheim, president of Geneva Airport, said the strike was unjustified, saying that pay and work conditions are excellent. “I’m sad because they are taking passengers, who may have saved money for a long time, hostage,” he said.

A total of around 54,000 passengers and 394 flights were expected take to the air before the work stoppage caused cancellations.

First airport strike

The walkout is the first strike by workers directly employed by the airport since it started operations in 1919, according to the Keystone-SDA news agency.

“The new wage system proposed by the airport’s management includes significant wage cuts. It no longer contains any guarantee for wage developments and opens the door wide to arbitrariness,” VPOD had previously stated.

Earlier this month Swiss International Air Lines warned of “unprecedented” strike disruption in other countries, such as Germany and Italy.

Geneva airport handled nearly 18 million passengers last year and 186,000 flight movements.

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