North American Labor Union advises against privatizing with Germany-based Fraport group
The austerity program prescribed by the European Union as a condition of Greece’s loan extension includes a privatization program to raise 50 billion euros from the sale of Greek state assets. While Germany was widely perceived as taking a hardline approach in negotiations over the terms of loan extensions, a German company—Fraport Group—that is majority owned by German local governments may be one of the beneficiaries of this privatization program.
Fraport is the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport, one of the largest airport in Europe. In November 2014, a Fraport-led consortium won a tender offer to operate 14 Greek regional airports for a term of at least 40 years. However, after the Syriza-led government took power in January 2015, Greece began reevaluating the existing privatization program, putting the Fraport deal in jeopardy.
The recent terms prescribed by European Union member states, including Germany its most influential member, preempt a full reevaluation and make finalization of the Fraport deal more likely. Soon after the Greek parliament voted to approve the bailout terms, the CEO of Fraport and the Minister of the State of Hesse, which owns 31% of Fraport, visited Brussels separately in an effort to complete the deal with new guarantees favorable for Fraport.
A North American labor union has entered the discussion by advising Greece against finalizing the deal with Fraport, based on its own experience with Fraport at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). The labor union, UNITE HERE, has been involved in a labor dispute with Fraport’s US subsidiary, AIRMALL USA since early 2013.
Fraport purchased AIRMALL in August 2014. Workers, union officials and American politicians have called on Fraport and its shareholders to take measures to fix problems with jobs at the AIRMALL-managed BWI concessions program. Still, in over 10 months of ownership, Fraport has failed to implement any meaningful policies to fix the problems with jobs at the airport.
UNITE HERE representatives are in Greece the week of July 27 to educate decision-makers about the conduct of Fraport’s AIRMALL subsidiary in the United States and to recommend that the Greek state explore all available options to withdraw from the deal.
Unfortunately, SYRIZA was forced to retreat also in this matter and 14 of the most vital for tourism Greek airports, will be sold off to the German company under the new "deal" with the creditors.