The taxi driver strike at Switzerland’s main airport is over after all sides reached a compromise on the fifth day of industrial action.
The Unia trade union accepted an offer from employers IG Airport Taxi to negotiate a new collective labour contract but gave up demands for a minimum salary.
The compromise fell short of initial demands for a SFr4,000 ($3,088) minimum monthly wage guarantee, but instead grants a 13th monthly salary and better sick pay benefits.
Both sides also agreed to negotiate a new collective contract by the end of the year.
"It is a compromise, but it is a better situation than before and the drivers are very happy. It wasn’t quite what we were asking for, but the drivers should be better off by about eight to ten per cent now," said Unia representative Hans Scheidegger, representing the taxi drivers.
Dario Casa, president of IG Airport Taxi, said he was pleased that passengers would be able to use taxis at the beginning of the summer holiday season.
"I'm content that the strike has finally ended, but it has not only cost the company a lot of money, but also damaged our image," he said.
The strike, which began on Monday, was causing confusion and anger among passengers arriving at Switzerland’s main airport as they tried to get to the city centre.
Airport operators Unique said that they were relieved that the inconvenience to passengers caused by the dispute was now at an end.
"We are very glad that the strike has ended. We have recently invested a lot of money in the infrastructure of this airport that has seen a significant improvement in quality for our customers," said Unique spokeswoman Sonja Zöchling.
"The taxi driver strike threatened to undo some of this progress and was bad for the image of the airport," she added.
The trade union claimed that the problem started on January 1 when a new contract between IG Airport Taxi and the airport operator came into force, increasing the annual fee charged by the airport for each car working there from SFr5,000 to SFr10,000.
It said that drivers were being forced to work up to 80 hours per week for as little as SFr3,000 with insufficient provision for sick pay.
IG Airport Taxi is an umbrella group for seven different taxi companies that serve Zurich airport.
There are 130 taxis licensed by Unique to ply their trade at Switzerland’s main airport. They have to pay an annual fee of SFr10,000.
8,465,759 passengers used Zurich airport during the first six months of 2005.
The strike began last Monday over a decision by the employers, IG Airport Taxi, to liberalise the taxi trade.
A compromise between the Unia trade union and the employers was reached on Friday.
Drivers withdrew demands for a SFr4,000 monthly minimum salary, but they received assurances for a new collective labour contract to be negotiated by the end of the year.
In the meantime, the current collective contract, which includes guarantees for a 13th monthly wage and sick pay benefits, is applied.