A considerable number of ground staff at Geneva Airport initiated a strike on Sunday, citing a wage dispute with their employer, the Dubai National Air Travel Agency (Dnata). This industrial action resulted in flight delays during the bustling holiday season. Dnata personnel, responsible for approximately a fifth of the traffic at Cointrin airport, commenced their strike at 4:00 am (0300 GMT), as announced by the SSP public sector union on X, formerly Twitter.

The strike was organized to advocate for “dignified working conditions and fair wages,” according to the union’s statement.

Approximately 80 strikers congregated in front of the airport, donning bright yellow safety vests and displaying union flags alongside posters bearing messages such as “Dnata is killing me” and “Precarious work means grounded flights.”

Acknowledging the impact on operations, the airport released a statement expressing regret for the inconvenience caused to passengers. The statement read, “Some of the employees of a service provider are on strike today, causing an impact on our operations.”

According to airport spokesman Ignace Jeannerat, three flights, including two intercontinental and long-haul journeys, experienced delays early Sunday. He further mentioned that these flights might need to divert to other airports. On this particular day, Dnata was expected to assist with 85 out of the 419 scheduled flights, with the Geneva airport anticipating the movement of 52,000 passengers.

Dnata reportedly employs around 600 staff at the airport, responsible for various ground operations, including ticketing services and baggage handling for international airlines such as British Airways, Air France, and KLM.

The union indicates that approximately half of the Dnata staff have chosen to participate in the open-ended strike, and the duration of the stoppage will be assessed “hour by hour,” according to the 20minutes online news site.

Workers are pressing for a five percent salary increase from Dnata, an Emirati airport service provider. Additionally, they are advocating for a premium for physically demanding roles and extra compensation for night and Sunday work—requests that Dnata has rejected, as per union representative Jamshid Pouranpir’s statement to 20minutes.

While Dnata has proposed a three percent salary hike and withdrawn a contentious plan to reduce contributions to staff retirement funds, these offers have not satisfied the workers. Dnata representative Alexandre Koenig conveyed the company’s determination to reach an agreement but emphasized that any work stoppage would be considered “illegal.”

SSP, in the meantime, criticized the “pressures” exerted by the company, claiming that it has issued threats to terminate employees who participate in the strike, as reported by the news site.

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