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Lufthansa ground staff in Germany to stage airport strike from Thursday

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Lufthansa ground staff in Germany to stage airport strike from Thursday
A Lufthansa plane parked at Frankfurt airport in February. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Germany's powerful Verdi union on Monday called on Lufthansa ground staff to stage a fresh two-day strike this week, the latest in a series of walkouts to hit Europe's largest economy.

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The strike action would impact passenger services from 4 am on Thursday until 7:10 am on Saturday, the union said in a statement, accusing management at the airline group of showing "no willingness" to come up with an improved offer.

Some 200,000 air travellers would be affected, Lufthansa warned.

Hamburg and Frankfurt will be especially affected. Verdi has also called on employees there in aviation security, passenger and goods control, cargo control and service to take part in the actions.

They are to strike all day on Thursday, March 7th, potentially leading to several cancellations.

Chief Verdi negotiator Marvin Reschinsky said the strikes come at a time when ground workers are barely earning the minimum wage, yet Germany’s Lufthansa is boasting a high profit margin.

"Nobody can understand that this company will be announcing record annual results this week, that bonuses for board members will be increased substantially, and that ground employees with hourly wages of €13 in some cases no longer even know how to make ends meet in Germany's most expensive cities," said Reschinsky in a statement.

With the warning strike, the trade union wants to increase the pressure on Lufthansa ahead of the planned fifth round of collective bargaining on March 13th and 14th.

There have already been two warning strikes in the ongoing wage dispute for around 25,000 ground staff, each of which paralysed passenger traffic.

A one-day strike by Lufthansa ground staff in Germany last month affected some 100,000 passengers, with between 80 and 90 percent of the airline's commercial flights grounded.

READ ALSO: German union calls three-day Lufthansa ground staff strike

Last week, Verdi Lufthansa staged strikes in the technical and cargo handling departments in calling for improved wages and working conditions from the company.

According to Verdi, employees who control the loading of aircraft or are responsible for handling freight at Lufthansa Cargo went on strike on Saturday. 

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Reschinsky said that the strikes’ impact on passengers was unfortunate but said that they would only come to an end when a compromise with Lufthansa was reached

"In the past few days, we have deliberately impacted passenger traffic with our strikes. However, by ignoring our request to negotiate, Lufthansa is telling us that it will only move when the pressure increases further." 

The airline's human resources chief Michael Niggemann said Lufthansa had repeatedly improved its offer and accused Verdi of "deliberately seeking escalation instead of a solution".

Verdi is calling for 12.5 percent more pay and an inflation compensation bonus for a one-year term. Lufthansa has so far offered 10 percent higher salaries for 28 months.

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A spate of strikes

Germany has been hit by a spate of strikes across varying sectors, including transport, the civil service and supermarkets.

Pinched by inflation over the last years and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, workers are demanding higher wages to cope with shrinking purchasing power.

The GDL train drivers union is due to hold a press conference later on Monday to give an update on its talks with rail operator Deutsche Bahn, with another strike call considered likely.

The union staged a multi-day stoppage in January, the longest in its history, to push its demands for higher pay and a shorter work week.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is being hit by strikes almost every day

 

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