Lufthansa ground crew to strike at seven German airports

Nearly 1,000 flights face cancellation as union calls for 12.5% pay rise

Frankfurt airport. A union has called on Lufthansa ground staff at seven German airports to walk off the job for a day on Tuesday. AP
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Hundreds of flights to and from German airports face cancellation after the Verdi trade union called on ground staff at Lufthansa to strike on Tuesday, in the latest round of protest action to hit the country.

The strikes will affect seven airports including Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. They will run from 4am local time on Tuesday to 7.10am on Wednesday, the union said.

Airports at Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Cologne-Bonn will also be affected.

Similar strike action this month led to more than 900 of 1,000 scheduled flights being cancelled, affecting about 10,000 passengers.

The Verdi union, which is embroiled in a continuing dispute with Lufthansa, is calling for a 12.5 per cent pay rise and a one-off, group-wide inflation bonus for 25,000 of the airline's workers.

Last week Lufthansa increased its pay rise offer to 10 per cent, which was rejected by 96 per cent of employees who say their wages do not match inflation in Germany, which averaged 5.9 per cent last year.

"While the company is offering pilots with annual basic wages of up to €270,000 ($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.

Common tactic

Michael Niggemann, the Lufthansa executive board member responsible for human resources, said the strike was unfortunate as the airline had made a "far-reaching" offer during talks and it would inconvenience customers and staff.

One-hour or one-day strikes are a common tactic employed by unions in Germany and are meant as a "warning shot" to companies during negotiations.

The Verdi union will continue talks with Lufthansa following the end of the strike on Wednesday morning.

Pilots at Lufthansa's leisure airline, Discover, have been striking in a separate dispute.

They have rejected Lufthansa's offers so far because they included contract clauses that would make it difficult for the union to push for better pay in future collective bargaining.

Germany has been hit by several strikes across a variety of sectors recently including transport, the civil service and supermarkets.

Rising cost-of-living pressures have led workers across the country to push for higher wages.

Updated: February 18, 2024, 2:26 PM