Strikes in Germany disrupt flights and trains, ‘paralyzing’ Europe’s biggest economy

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(CNN) — Nationwide strikes in Germany — among its worst in decades — are causing huge disruption at the country’s airports, on public transport and at its largest port Monday.

The walkouts have been called by two major transport unions in Europe’s biggest economy.

Ver.di, one of the unions, has demanded a 10.5% pay raise for its members, citing rising energy and food costs. More than 400,000 transport workers are taking part in the industrial action, according to Frank Werneke, the head of Ver.di.

Flights at eight major airports, including those in Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg, have been affected by the strikes. The German Airports Association has estimated that around 380,000 travelers will not be able to take off on Monday.

And some hubs such as Munich Airport closed their doors entirely, with 200,000 passengers impacted by the two-day closure at the airport that started Sunday.

Long-distance railroad services scheduled for Monday have been suspended across Germany, as were early morning regional and commuter rail services.

The “mega-strike” is “paralyzing” the country, according to German railway company Deutsche Bahn.

“This excessive and exaggerated strike makes millions of passengers who are dependent on buses and trains suffer. Not everyone can work from the home office,” spokesman Achim Strauss said in a statement.

In Munich, the local transport operator MVV announced the suspension of nearly all rail, underground and tram lines, and said it expected only half of all scheduled bus services to run.

Hamburg, Germany’s largest port, has also been hit by the walkouts, with large ships unable to call at or depart from the port.

Other German employers have also criticized the strikes. Karin Welge, a spokesperson for the VKA, a group that represents public sector employers, called it an “unprovoked escalation.”

“Rarely have I seen the population of a country affected in such a way,” Welge said.

However, Germans on the whole are broadly supportive of the walkouts. In a recent YouGov poll, about 55% of respondents considered the strikes announced by the two transport unions “rather” or “fully” justified. Some 38% said the industrial action was “rather not” or “not at all” justified, while 8% did not answer the question.

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