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Lufthansa Ground Staff Walk Out In Germany In Pay Dispute

By Dave Simpson

Ground staff at Deutsche Lufthansa LHAG.DE went on strike early Wednesday 27 July, prompting the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights, and adding to travel disruptions during the busy summer travel season.

Labour union Verdi had called for the walkout, which is due to run until 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Thursday 28 July, over its demand for a 9.5% pay hike for around 20,000 workers and warned that more industrial action could be on the cards.

The strike has caused Lufthansa to cancel nearly all flights at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs for Wednesday 27 July.

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Strikes and staff shortages have already forced airlines including Lufthansa to cancel thousands of flights and caused hours-long queues at major airports, frustrating holidaymakers keen to travel after COVID-19 lockdowns.

Lufthansa said on Wednesday 27 July that it was "a sad day" for holidaymakers who were unable to catch their flights due to the strike, adding that the walkout was unnecessary and out of proportion.

Diego Lambiase, who was on his way from Africa to Paris, found himself stranded in Frankfurt on Wednesday when his onward flight was cancelled.

"They say I will be rebooked tomorrow, but nobody was here when we arrived in order to say what we have to do, where we have to go, where we will sleep," he told Reuters TV at Germany's busiest airport.

"We are looking for some Lufthansa people, but when we asked we were told it will be very hard to find someone from Lufthansa today at the airport. So we don't know what to do," he said.

Verdi last month demanded a 9.5% pay rise, or at least 350 euros ($368) more per month for 12 months, for around 20,000 workers who it says are being squeezed by inflation and have been overworked due to staffing shortages at airports.

Lufthansa had offered an increase of 150 euros per month for the rest of this year and another 100 euros from the start of 2023, plus a 2% increase from mid-2023 dependent on the company's financial results.

Verdi rejected the offer, saying it was insufficient to offset soaring inflation, which hit 8.2% in Germany in June.

"I can understand (the strike) because they have the most leverage right now, during the summer holiday period," said Julian Grundmann, who was on his way to the Seychelles on a different airline.

"But for everyone who wanted to fly today, who had been looking forward to their holiday for a long time, this is tough," he said.

Verdi and Lufthansa have held two rounds of wage negotiations so far. A third is scheduled for 3 and 4 August.

"Should Lufthansa be stubborn next week and not improve its offer, we will consider further consequences for industrial action. Strikes would not be ruled out," Marvin Reschinsky of Verdi said.

Lufthansa Cancels Over 1,000 Flights Due To Ground Staff Walkout

The above news followed news that Deutsche Lufthansa LHAG.DE said it was cancelling more than 1,000 flights ahead of a one-day walkout by ground staff scheduled for Wednesday 27 July, just as families across Germany head off on their summer holidays.

Strikes and staff shortages have already forced airlines including Lufthansa to cancel thousands of flights and caused hours-long queues at major airports, frustrating holidaymakers keen to travel after COVID-19 related lockdowns cancelled 678 flights at its Frankfurt hub, most of which were scheduled for Wednesday 27 July, and 345 flights at Munich, Lufthansa said on Tuesday 26 July.

More than 130,000 passengers are affected, Lufthansa said, adding that there could be a few more cancellations and delays on Thursday 28 July and Friday 29 July, after the end of the strike called by labour union Verdi in pursuit of a 9.5% pay claim.

Lufthansa Ground Staff To Strike Over 9.5% Pay Claim

All of the above news followed news that ground staff at Deutsche Lufthansa LHAG.DE will stage a one-day strike on Wednesday 17 July in pursuit of a 9.5% pay claim, adding to travel disruption during the busy summer travel season.

Strikes and staff shortages have already forced airlines including Lufthansa to cancel thousands of flights and caused hours-long queues at major airports, frustrating holidaymakers keen to travel after COVID-19 related lockdowns.

The walkout by staff at Lufthansa's ground units this Wednesday 27 July will lead to additional cancellations and delays, labour union Verdi said, as it includes workers with key jobs such as aircraft maintenance, and moving aircraft away from boarding gates so they can head to the runway for takeoff.

Lufthansa said the walkout was "incomprehensible" and would be a burden on both passengers and staff beyond the end of the walkout.

The strike will affect German airports including Frankfurt, Duesseldorf and Berlin, and will run from 3.45 am (0145 GMT) on Wednesday 27 July until 6 am (0400 GMT) on Thursday 28 July.

Verdi last month demanded a 9.5% pay rise, or at least €350 more per month for 12 months, for around 20,000 workers who it says are being squeezed by inflation and have been overworked due to staffing shortages at airports.

Lufthansa had offered an increase of €150 per month for the rest of this year and another 100 euros more from the start of 2023, plus a 2% increase from mid-2023 dependent on the company's financial results.

Verdi rejected the offer, saying it was insufficient to offset soaring inflation, which hit 8.2% in Germany in June.

The workers "urgently need more money and they need relief - for themselves and for the passengers", Verdi deputy chief Christine Behle said in Monday 25 July's statement.

Verdi and Lufthansa have held two rounds of wage negotiations so far. A third is scheduled for 3 and 4 August.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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