Union calls Lufthansa ground staff strike at German airports

AFP , Sunday 18 Feb 2024

Union Verdi called on ground staff at Lufthansa to stage a walkout on Tuesday across Germany's biggest airports, in the latest strike to plague the country in recent weeks.

The tail of an airplane belonging to the German carrier Lufthansa is seen poking out from a hangar door at Munich international airport in southern Germany, on February 15, 2024. Photo: AFP


The industrial action affecting seven airports including Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin will start at 4:00 am (0300 GMT) on Tuesday and end at 7:10 am on Wednesday, the union said in a statement.

More than 100,000 passengers are expected to be impacted by the walkout, said Lufthansa in a separate statement, adding it was drawing up an alternative flight plan.

The airline's human resource chief Michael Niggemann blasted the union's decision, saying the action would once again "put a disproportionate burden on our guests".

But the union said no progress had been made in negotiations on working conditions, justifying the strike for 25,000 workers, including maintenance employees and airport counter staff across the company.

Among sticking points were what the union said were an overly low pay offer made to the staff in comparison to other employee categories such as pilots.

"While the company is offering pilots with annual basic wages of up to 270,000 euros ($298,000) raises reaching two-digit figures, ground staff are unable to break even given the inflation of the last years," said Verdi's lead negotiator Marvin Reschinsky.

"We don't want this escalation. We want a quick result for employees and passengers," said the union, which is seeking pay rises of 12.5 percent, and a minimum of 500 euros more a month.

Lufthansa has offered to raise wages by four percent in December before another 5.5 percent increase in February 2025.

It has also said it would pay a 3,000 euros inflation bonus to each worker.

The next round of negotiations will take place on February 21.

Germany has been hit by a spate of strikes across varying sectors including transport, the civil service and supermarkets.

Pinched by inflation over the last years and in th wake of the coronavirus pandemic, workers are demanding higher wages to cope with the cost of living.

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