GENEVA: The holiday travel plans of thousands were disrupted as ground staff at Geneva Airport launched a strike on Sunday, protesting a wage dispute with their employer, Dnata. The strike, which began at 4:00 am (0300 GMT), has impacted the bustling Christmas rush, causing delays to several flights.
Dnata personnel, responsible for handling approximately a fifth of the traffic through Cointrin airport, called the strike to demand “dignified working conditions and working wages,” as reported by the SSP public sector union on social media.
Approximately 80 striking workers gathered in front of the airport wearing bright yellow safety vests, waving union flags, and holding posters with messages such as “Dnata is killing me” and “Precarious work means grounded flights.”
Acknowledging the impact on operations, the airport issued a statement apologizing to passengers for the inconvenience. Airport spokesman Ignace Jeannerat confirmed that three flights, including two intercontinental and long-haul journeys, were delayed early Sunday. He suggested that some of these flights might need to divert to other airports.
Workers Strike at Geneva Airport
Dnata, an airport service provider, employs around 600 staff at Geneva Airport who handle various ground operations, including ticketing services and baggage handling, for international airlines such as British Airways, Air France, and KLM.
The union estimates that approximately half of the Dnata staff have joined the open-ended strike. Workers are demanding a five percent salary increase, as well as premiums for physically demanding jobs and additional pay for night and Sunday work.
Dnata has offered a three percent salary increase and dropped a plan to cut contributions to staff retirement funds, but these concessions have not satisfied the striking workers. The union representative, Jamshid Pouranpir, told 20minutes online news that the duration of the strike would be evaluated “hour by hour.”
Amid the negotiations, Dnata representative Alexandre Koenig expressed the company’s determination to find an agreement but insisted that any work stoppage would be considered “illegal.” The SSP union raised concerns about alleged “pressures” from the company, claiming that employees who participate in the strike have been threatened with termination.