Lufthansa ground staff at multiple major German airports are set to go on strike later this week. The strike, set to last from 4:00 a.m. on February 7 to 7:00 a.m. the following day, is the latest to hit the German transportation industry following strikes at railway companies over demands for a shortened work week.
The upcoming strikes will affect Lufthansa, as the airline is already reeling from a previous strike last week. Check-in agents, aircraft handling, and maintenance employees will be among the staff striking on Wednesday. Lufthansa's cargo operations will also be affected since cargo employees plan to participate.
The airports that will be affected by Wednesday's strike are Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Hamburg (HAM), Berlin (BER), and Düsseldorf (DUS).
Ver.di Union: A "Warning" Strike.
The Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (Ver.di) Union is ideally seeking a 12.5% raise in pay for its union members, all of whom are Lufthansa ground staff at various German airports. If this demand is not met, Ver.di is seeking at least an extra €500 ($539) monthly in pay for the union's 25,000 members. Should Lufthansa and union negotiators agree to a €500 monthly pay raise, another clause to the temporary agreement will be added: a one-time €3,000 ($3220) payment to every Ver.di union member at Lufthansa as a means of offsetting inflation.
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According to AP News, "Such several-hour or one-day "warning strikes" are a common tactic in German contract negotiations." This strike is not the first Lufthansa has experienced this year. On February 1, Ver.di called airport security workers out on a one-day strike for the same reason: to negotiate better pay.
According to Lufthansa, 80 to 90 percent of domestic and international flights will be canceled. Christina Semmel, an airline representative, said:
"In Frankfurt, selected long-haul flights, such as New York and Rio de Janeiro, as well as certain short and medium-haul flights, are planned."
Passengers transferring flights with Lufthansa through German airports may be affected depending on whether or not passengers will have to re-clear security or interact with certain Lufthansa-hired airport staff. Semmel added:
"We expect that the Lufthansa Group airlines, such as Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and SWISS, as well as Lufthansa CityLine, will be able to fly mostly regularly...We regret the inconvenience for our guests."
Guests flying with Lufthansa on flights affected by the strike will receive an email or a notification on the airline's app. Furthermore, passengers booked on flights canceled due to the strike can re-book their flight(s) free of charge on the Lufthansa website or through ticketing and service counters at Lufthansa hub airports before and immediately following the strike.
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Lufthansa also allows guests who booked domestic German flights between February 7 and 8 to exchange their flight tickets for vouchers to use on the German Railways - Deutsche Bahn (DB). Besides Lufthansa and certain Lufthansa Group airlines, commercial flights into and out of Germany will primarily be unaffected by the upcoming airport worker strikes.
Since the pandemic, inflation has been ravaging the German economy, with wages not keeping up with rising living costs. These issues, primarily energy and heating, have only been exacerbated by the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In recent years, employees at German airports have gone on strike over working conditions multiple times. Other European countries, including Finland, France, and the United Kingdom, have witnessed aviation-related strikes for similar reasons.
Should the demands of the workers on strike and Ver.di union not be met by Lufthansa, or a temporary agreement not established, the union could call for a larger, more widespread, and longer strike that could severely affect longer-term operations at Lufthansa and its cargo subsidiary Lufthansa Cargo.
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