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Germany: Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa workers go on strike

March 12, 2024

Labor action affected all Lufthansa departures from Frankfurt airport and railway operations nationwide. It is only the latest walkout to disrupt German transport services.

A display board at Stuttgart main station indicates a short-term GDL strike.
Deutsche Bahn is offering a diminished emergency timetable for long-distance trainsImage: picture alliance/Panama Pictures

Commuters and travelers in Germany faced fresh difficulties on Tuesday due to parallel transport strikes at Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa.

Germany's national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, said only 20% of the country's long-distance trains were running. The strike by the GDL trade union also impacted regional and suburban train services.

Meanwhile, a strike by Lufthansa's cabin crew union at Frankfurt — Germany's busiest airport — caused the cancellation of up to 600 flights. The national carrier reported that the action could affect up to 70,000 passengers.

Why are train drivers striking?

The 24-hour GDL strike is the sixth by train drivers and other rail workers in a monthslong dispute with Deutsche Bahn over wages and hours.

The main sticking point is GDL's demand for working hours to be reduced from 38 to 35 hours per week without a pay cut.

During several weeks of negotiations between the two parties, moderators suggested reducing working hours from 38 to 36 by 2028. However, GDL was not satisfied with the details of the proposal.

"Striking instead of negotiating is irresponsible," Transport Minister Volker Wissing told the Bild newspaper.

An appeals court on Tuesday struck down Deutsche Bahn's attempt to halt the industrial action. The railway operator asked the court to overturn a lower court earlier decision that rejected the railway's lawsuit to stop the ongoing strike.

German strikes hurting economy and travelers alike

Why are Lufthansa cabin crew striking?

Tuesday's strike by flight attendants at Lufthansa and its subsidiary Lufthansa Cityline is the latest labor action to affect the German carrier.

The Independent Flight Attendants Organization (UFO) union said their member's strike would affect departures from Frankfurt airport on Tuesday and flights out of Munich on Wednesday. Lufthansa estimated ahead of the walkouts that a total of 1,000 flights would be canceled over the two days.

UFO is calling for a 15% pay increase with fresh negotiations after 18 months, as well as a one-time inflation compensation payment of €3,000 ($3,300) for its roughly 18,000 members.

A display in the departure hall at Frankfurt Airport shows several flights as canceled
Lufthansa estimated ahead of the walkouts that a total of 1,000 flights would be canceled over the two daysImage: picture alliance/dpa

Last week, a strike by ground staff organized by another union, Verdi, paralyzed much of Lufthansa's passenger traffic.

The airline giant also announced on Thursday that its profits had doubled in 2023 — from €791 million in 2022 to €1.67 billion — as demand soared amid the recovery in the sector following the COVID pandemic.

lo/nm (dpa, AP)

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