Ground staff employed by German flag carrier Lufthansa at its two main bases have begun a 27-hour walkout. With the airline struggling to operate just 10% to 20% of its planned scheduled services for February 7, 2024, the industrial action is expected to affect 100,000 passengers during the strike period.
While Germany’s air transport biggest hubs (in terms of passengers) at Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC) will be hardest hit by the strike, other German airports including Hamburg (HAM), Berlin (BER), and Düsseldorf (DUS) will also be affected. The strike will involve employees of several companies across the Lufthansa Group, including Deutsche Lufthansa, Lufthansa Technik, and Lufthansa Cargo.
The walkout comes after wage negotiations for some 25,000 ground crew faltered in January 2024. The employers’ union, Verdi, has been demanding a salary rise of 12.5% for its ground staff members, or at least EUR500 ($537.00) more per month over 12 months. It is also demanding a one-time payment of EUR3,000 ($3,300) for each of its members to offset the effects of inflation.
The union is arguing that a higher cost of living and heavy workloads due to staff shortages are grounds for the higher pay demand. The staff rejected an offer put forward by Lufthansa in the second round of negotiations held on January 23, 2024. Lufthansa ground staff last walked off the job in July 2022 during the last round of collective bargaining negotiations, causing major travel disruption.
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The carrier has announced that more than 100,000 passengers are being forced to reschedule flights as a result of the strike and has urged passengers booked on canceled flights not to travel to airports because rebooking counters will not be staffed. Lufthansa also said converting domestic German flight tickets to vouchers for rail travel would be possible for those passengers affected.
However, passengers flying with Lufthansa’s subsidiaries and partner airlines are expected to be largely unaffected by the industrial action. For example, Lufthansa’s European off-shoot airline Eurowings is planning to operate its full schedule. At Munich (MUC) and Frankfurt (FRA) airports, staff that were working are expected to prioritize services by Lufthansa’s foreign subsidiaries Swiss, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines.
This latest strike action at Lufthansa follows widespread industrial action across German transport infrastructure in recent months. On February 1, 2024, the Verdi union called for security staff at several major airports to take strike action. There have also been strikes on German railways and in other sectors of the country’s public transport systems.
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