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Germany: Lufthansa braces for new ground crew strike

March 4, 2024

Trade union Verdi has called for a Lufthansa ground staff to go on strike in Germany on Thursday and Friday. It's the latest in a series of such actions affecting planes and trains.

Airport ground staff protest in Berlin departure lounge during a strike. February 28, 2024.
Ground staff were also on strike on February 28 amid the long-running disputeImage: Carsten Koall/dpa/picture alliance

A major German trade union on Monday called on Lufthansa ground staff to strike again on Thursday and Friday, March 7 and 8, as it seeks to increase pressure ahead of another round of negotiations the following week. 

It said that staff should stop work from at 4 a.m. on Thursday morning (0300 GMT/UTC) until 7:10 a.m. on Saturday.

Delays and cancellations are probable, with previous similar strikes disrupting flights and prompting criticism from Lufthansa.

On February 20, seven German airports were affected, most Lufthansa passenger flights were grounded and around 100,000 passengers impacted. The second strike on February 28 focused more on disrupting cargo services

"In the past few days we consciously left passenger travel out of our strikes," Verdi negotiator Marvin Reschinsky said. "Lufthansa is telling us by ignoring our demands for negotiations that it will only move once the pressure is increased further."

A traveler with a suitcase looks at a departures board at Berlin's BER airport. February 28, 2024.
Thursday and Friday's strike will be tailored to impact passenger flightsImage: Carsten Koall/dpa/picture alliance

What Verdi said about the latest strike

The influential trade union Verdi, Germany's second-largest by overall membership, is negotiating on behalf of roughly 25,000 employees in the dispute.

It's seeking pay rises of 12% for workers it represents, or a minimum of €500 ($542) per month, whichever is higher. Lufthansa has offered pay increases over an extended period but Verdi says they do not meet its demands.

"It is inexplicable to anyone that this company is about to announce a record annual performance this week, is going to increase bonuses for its board considerably, and that staff on the ground with an hourly wage of sometimes €13 don't even know how they're meant to make ends meet in some of Germany's most expensive cities," Verdi quoted negotiator Marvin Reschinsky as saying.

A fresh round of talks, the fifth in the dispute, are set for March 13 and 14. Verdi has said it will not return to the negotiating table earlier unless Lufthansa presents an improved offer in advance, a position Lufthansa criticized. Lufthansa had offered talks for this Monday, March 4.

Dream job: Pilot

Planes and trains alike affected by strikes

Trains and public transport services have also been disrupted by several strikes in recent weeks in Germany with negotiations faltering and no breakthrough in sight

The disruptions to the movement of people and goods as a result was even mentioned by Germany's Bundesbank central bank last month as a cause for economic concern as it announced that the country could enter a technical recession by the end of the first quarter.

A few days later the German government revised its economic growth forecast for the coming year downwards.

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msh/ab (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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