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Germany: Lufthansa faces fresh strike from different union

March 9, 2024

Lufthansa staff are being urged to stop work for the second time in a matter of days. This time it's the UFO trade union calling on cabin crews to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Passengers with luggage waiting near a Lufthansa check-in terminal at Munich Airport during a strike action.on March 7, 2024.
Departures from Frankfurt will be hit on Tuesday, and from Munich on WednesdayImage: Sven Hoppe/dpa/picture alliance

German trade union UFO on Saturday called on its roughly 19,000 members working as cabin crew for Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cityline to strike on either Tuesday or Wednesday, March 12 and 13. 

It's the latest in a series of strikes to affect Lufthansa, with Verdi ground staff having downed tools for 27 hours on Thursday and Friday. The last impacts of this action, with isolated delays and cancellations, were still evident on Saturday. 

Like trade union Verdi, UFO made reference to Lufthansa's strong performance in 2023 announced this week — recovering from the major disruptions and losses during the COVID pandemic — when explaining the strike. 

"The cabin crew must now also share in this success and the concessions that were made during the COVID crisis must be adequately compensated," said Joachim Vazquez Bürger, UFO board chairman. 

Strike hitting Frankfurt on Tuesday, Munich on Wednesday 

UFO said that members should strike for all departures leaving Frankfurt airport on Tuesday, and all flights out of Munich on Wednesday, in an action targeting Germany's two busiest airports by passenger numbers.

The strike time on each day would be 4 a.m. to 11 p.m., it said. 

According to UFO, 96% of participating members had voted in favor of the action in a pair of votes for Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cityline workers. 

A crowd of Verdi trade union members protesting outside the Lufthansa Technik facility in Hamburg during a strike, on March 8, 2024.
Striking staff from a different union, Verdi, were protesting outside Lufthansa's Hamburg factory on FridayImage: Ulrich Perrey/dpa/picture alliance

UFO says it is calling for a 15% pay increase with fresh negotiations after 18 months, as well as an inflation compensation payment of €3,000 (roughly $3,300) for its roughly 18,000 members with Lufthansa and around 1,000 at the Lufthansa Cityline short-distance, low-cost subsidiary.

Widespread public transport disruptions

Similar labor disputes are affecting several public transport companies in Germany at present, leading to a series of strikes affecting planes, trains and other transport services

Lufthansa ground crews were on strike on Thursday and Friday. Security staff at Düsseldorf airport went on an unannounced strike on Thursday. 

Also on Thursday, train drivers took part in a 35-hour strike as part of their call for a 35-hour work week still compensated for the current standard of 38 hours. Only around one in five long-distance trains were running that day. 

The GDL train drivers' union has said it will no longer provide advanced warning for strike actions, to ensure the rail network is no longer a "reliable" means of transportation.

Local public transport has faced similar disruptions, varying from state to state. 

The German central bank last month warned that the strikes could impact economic performance, as it warned the country was likely to enter a technical recession by the end of this quarter.

German strikes hurting economy and travelers alike

msh/mm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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