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Lufthansa ground staff to strike on Wednesday

July 25, 2022

The all-day strike on Wednesday is expected to cause flight cancellations and delays — adding to the travel chaos that has plagued German airports this summer.

Lufthansa airplanes are parked at gates at Frankfurt Airport
Trade union Verdi said Lufthansa cut too much staff during the COVID pandemic which has put employees under strainImage: Daniel Kubirski/picture alliance

In an announcement on Monday, German trade union Verdi called on ground staff working for  Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa to take part in a "warning strike" this week.

The day-long strike, which will take place on Wednesday, will affect operations at Germany's major airports, including Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin.

Lufthansa has criticized the action as "unreasonable."

Why has the strike been called?

The union is negotiating for a pay raise on behalf of 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff, which include logistics workers and technicians — without whom, planes cannot take of. 

Verdi said that during the second round of wage negotiations, Lufthansa presented an offer that was deemed insufficient. The union is demanding a 9.5% pay increase.

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In a statement, the trade union said that the situation at airports was escalating with employees being overworked due to "significant staff shortages, high inflation and a three-year wage freeze," which was placing employees under pressure.

After a failed second round of negotiations, Verdi's deputy chairwoman Christine Behle said, "They urgently need more money and they need relief — for themselves and for passengers. The employers' offer is not enough for that."

Verdi had rejected an initial wage offer from Lufthansa, but agreed to continue negotiations on August 3-4.

'Cancellations and delays' will take place

The strike is slated to start at 3:45 am (0145 GMT) on Wednesday and last until 6:00 am on Thursday. The planned walkout is taking place among peak summer vacation travel, coming at a time when German airports are already facing staff shortages and long lines.

Verdi said that the action "will result in flight cancellations and delays" and while apologizing to passengers who had travel arrangements made for that day to make alternative plans.

In a message to passengers, Verdi said, "We want a functioning air traffic without stress and strain for our passengers and us employees. Lufthansa has cut too many staff during the pandemic."

In June, Lufthansa said it would cancel over 2,000 additional flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs due to staff shortages. The company believes reducing the number of flights is the only solution at the moment.
The coronavirus pandemic forced airlines to lay off thousands of workers during its worst-ever crisis. Airlines are now scrambling to hire more workers as travel demand recovers. Recruitment, however, has been inadequate. 

kb/rs (dpa, Reuters)