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Geneva airport strike ends

Ground staff striking at Geneva International Airport have ended their ten-day protest action over salary and work conditions.

The impact of the strike by Swissport staff, mainly from the baggage handling sector, was limited to a few flight delays, delayed luggage and longer waiting times for baggage collection.

On Tuesday, negotiations led by Geneva Employment Minister François Longchamp, who is also the president of Geneva airport, resulted in an agreement being reached. The financial package includes a raise of SFr40 ($39.30) a month and an increase in pay for work during irregular hours from SFr2.75 to SFr3.10.

These rates are valid from January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2011.

Swissport ground staff launched their industrial action on January 2, calling for an improved collective work contract, specifically for airport businesses, wage increases and better work organisation.

They said competition between private handling firms at the state-owned airport was driving down the rates which airlines were being charged. This had a direct impact on baggage handlers wages and conditions, they argued.

Last week Swissport said the strikers and their “unsympathetic” union had unrealistic demands given the current economic climate.

After a calamitous year for airlines in 2009 in terms of passenger movements and freight traffic, 2010 will not be much better, say executives. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has cut its 2010 forecast and now expects an aggregate loss of over $5 billion (SFr5.08 billion), which will have a knock-on effect in the ground-handling field, they claim.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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