Union calls on 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff to strike at Germany’s airports, adding to Europe’s travel chaos

An image of a Lufthansa plane.

Lufthansa ground staff are planning a one-day strike on Wednesday amid the travel chaos.Getty Images

  • Lufthansa ground staff are planning a strike from 3.45 a.m. on Wednesday to 6 a.m. on Thursday local time.

  • The union representing 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff are demanding higher wages.

  • The strike will hit airports in Germany including Frankfurt and Berlin, adding to travel chaos.

A union representing 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff is planning to go on a one-day strike that will hit airports in Germany and add to the chaos seen across the entire travel industry this summer.

The walkout will start at 3.45 a.m. on Wednesday and end at 6 a.m. on Thursday local time, the United Services Union, or ver.di, said in a statement on Monday. Industrial action will affect major hubs in Germany including Frankfurt, Berlin, and Dusseldorf.

As the union’s members include Lufthansa maintenance staff and those operating vehicles that push aircraft into appropriate positions, “there will be major flight cancellations and delays to come,” ver.di warned in the statement.

Ver.di last month demanded a 9.5% pay increase, or at least 350 euros ($358) more each month over 12 months for members. “The situation at the airports is escalating; the overburdening of employees due to a significant shortage of staff, high inflation, and a three-year wage cut would put the employees under increasing pressure,” said the union.

Lufthansa, Europe’s second largest airline behind low-cost carrier Ryanair, offered an increase of €150 each month for the rest of 2022 and another €100 more from the start of 2023. Employees would then receive another a 2% increase from mid-2023, depending on the airline’s performance.

Ver.di rejected the offer, saying it wasn’t enough to offset Germany’s skyrocketing inflation, which hit 8.2% in June. “They urgently need more money and they need relief — for themselves and for the passengers. The employer’s offer is not sufficient for this,” deputy chairperson Christine Behle said in a Monday statement. She also asked for understanding from passengers.

Lufthansa said the planned strike is “unreasonable.”

“After the enormous efforts to stabilize our flight operations, this represents a renewed, substantial and unnecessary burden for our passengers and also for our employees beyond the strike day,” said Michael Niggemann, Lufthansa’s chief human resources officer in a statement on Monday.

The aviation sector is dealing with a messy summer travel season with flight delays, lost bags, and chaos across the industry — and particularly in Europe — as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Issues faced by airlines include staff shortages and bad weather.

Lufthansa and the ver.di union will hold their next round of negotiations on August 3 and August 4.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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