German unions under global fire for stranding ITB exhibitors


(Posted 14th March 2017)

Exhibitors at the just ended ITB 2017 are furious for being stranded and missing their return flights home after one of Germany’s most rabid unions, Verdi, extended their strike on both of Berlin’s airports beyond Monday to as long as Wednesday.
Exhibitors from Eastern and other parts of Africa, often booked on restricted fare tickets when travelling to such international tourism fairs, are now faced with the prospect – being stuck in Berlin and in view of overbooked trains not able to reach Frankfurt immediately – to lose their connection and having to pay for another ticket, should their respective airlines stick to the rules and not exercise compassion and let them fly on a later date.
The unfolding dramas in Berlin are doing little to promote ITB 2018 to the world as Germany’s guests from around the globe no doubt expected better treatment than being clobbered by strikes aimed to inflict maximum damage on companies working at the two airports of Tegel and Schoenefeld.
The first strikes took place last Friday already when key travel trade professionals were due to return home as the ‘trade days’ came to an end while those staff of exhibitors who stayed until the end of the trade show on Sunday evening were then ambushed by yet more strikes, first pronounced for Monday before being extended to mid week.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled leaving the global travel and tourism who is who unable to make it to their connecting airports and with limited options to leave the German capital.
Complained Ms. Liz Tapawa of Jacaranda Hotels in Kenya on Facebook:
The airport staff strike in Berlin begun as a big joke. Who would have thought that you can get stuck because of a strike that was initially not taken too seriously . We just boarded a train to Frankfurt to try and catch a connecting flight . The trains are full and the chaos is real. If this was in Kenya we would all be trying to get our guests sorted out in whichever possible way. On the contrary it’s our problem no one cares as much. Morale of this story, we are a good people living in a beautiful country that we must treasure. Never take your little Kenyan "peculiar " things for granted . They make up for something great‘.This makes one of many similar comments received and is a damning indictment of both the ITB Trade Fair management – which clearly lacked the crisis element required to respond and assist their exhibitors and attendees – but also of the German Union movement which in recent years lost all sight of proportion as strikes inflicted on Lufthansa and other airlines also attest to.
Get home safe and soon my dear friends from Africa.