A warning strike by the ground crew on Wednesday will have Lufthansa needing to cancel all its flights out of Frankfurt and Munich. The effects of the strike could even last until Thursday and Friday, the German airline warns, which quantifies the strike as “disproportionate” with “enormous damage.” Lufthansa cancels over 1.000 flights ahead of ground strike.
The strike has been called by union ver.di. It calls upon 20.000 ground staff at Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Köln, Hamburg, and Berlin to strike the entire Wednesday. The union has been in negotiations with the airline for a new collective agreement for Lufthansa AG Boden, Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Technik Logistics Systems, Lufthansa Systems, Lufthansa Service Gesellschaft (LSG), and Lufthansa Engineering and Operational Services.
Negotiations entered a second round of discussions on July 13, but union members rejected the offer as inadequate. Ver.di demands a 9.5 percent pay rise or €350 per month and a higher hourly rate of €13 instead of €12 euro that is still paid by LTLS and Lufthansa Cargo. Lufthansa says it has offered a basic pay rise of €150 per month from July 1, €100 per month extra from January, a two percent compensation in July next year if the airline’s earnings are positive, and a commitment to raise hourly rates to the requested €13.
Although negotiations are scheduled to resume on August 3, ver.di is putting pressure on Lufthansa by calling for a warning strike that starts Wednesday at 3.45 am until Thursday at 6 am. In a media statement, ver.di vice-president Christine Behle asks affected passengers for their understanding. “Our workforce, which is under huge pressure day in and day out, had expected a strong signal in the second round of negotiations to get a good bargaining result. Staff urgently need higher salaries and a reduction of the workload. The Lufthansa offer fails to meet these demands.”
Michael Niggemann, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director at Lufthansa, responded in a corporate statement: “The early escalation of a previously constructive collective bargaining round is causing enormous damage. It affects our passengers in particular, who are impacted during the peak travel season. And it is putting an additional heavy strain on our employees in an already difficult phase for air traffic. In view of our high offer with very substantial pay increases over the next 12 months of more than 10 percent more in the pay groups up to 3.000 euros monthly basic pay and a 6 percent increase for a monthly basic pay of 6.500 euros, this so-called warning strike is in the middle of the peak summer travel season is simply no longer proportionate.” The airline already feels the pressure from the sharp increase of fuel and oil prices.
Lufthansa has canceled 678 flights in Frankfurt, some already on Tuesday, while at Munich 345 flights have been canceled. These are likely to affect some 134.000 passengers, of which not all can be rebooked due to the late call for the strike. The strike comes days ahead of the start of the summer holidays in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Lufthansa staff at Frankfurt has been under pressure as the airport suffers from labor shortages, as is the case in many airports in Europe. Frankfurt Airport decided on July 15 to cap flights to 88 movements an hour from July 18 onwards. Lufthansa welcomed that decision, as it would help to stabilize its own operations and that of the airport.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.