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Germany: Union calls 3-day Lufthansa ground staff strike

February 27, 2024

The Verdi trade union has called on its members working as ground personnel for Lufthansa to strike for three days, starting on Wednesday. The short-notice action is the latest of several similar strikes.

A picture of an airport departures or arrivals board, where the word "canceled" is visible repeatedly. Image from February 20, 2024, at Frankfurt Main airport.
A series of strikes have hit German public transport in recent monthsImage: Boris Roessler/dpa/picture alliance

Lufthansa ground staff are to go on strike for three days beginning Wednesday as a wage dispute between the German flag carrier airline and trade unions continues.

The announcement by the trade union Verdi comes just seven days after the last one-day ground personnel strike on February 20.

Since then, Lufthansa has made another "improved" offer, according to head of human resources Michael Niggemann, which included bringing forward the first of two wage increases from December to March this year and a quicker pay-out of a €3,000 inflation compensation bonus.

But Verdi has again rejected the offer as "insufficient," repeating its demands for either a 12.5% increase or a minimum monthly increase of €500, whichever is higher.

A fifith round of talks is scheduled for March 13 and 14.

Legitimate strikes in wage disputes

Verdi: Passengers should not be affected

Accusing Lufthansa of failing to enter into mediation, the union says it is intentionally striking in such a way so as not to disrupt passengers — but it said that this could change in future should demands not be met.

"In our first step, we are responding to the employer's attempt to ride this out by not disrupting passangers," chief negotiator Marvin Reschinsky said, without explaining precisely how this would be achieved.

"However, should this irresponsible behavior from Lufthansa continue, we regret that passengers will also soon be affected again by strikes. It's in Lufthansa's hands to prevent that."

The latest strike comes amid a wave of industrial action across Germany, including on the railways. Coinciding with the latest Lufthansa strike, local public transport workers in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia are also set to strike on Thursday and Friday this week.

How are the strikes affecting the German economy?

Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, has cited the strikes as one potential factor in the country's GDP contracting by 0.3% year-on-year in the final quarter of 2023 and shrinking over the entire year combined.

Ahead of Lufthansa's last strike on February 20, the Bundesbank said it could "not be ruled out that the various strikes, among other places in areas like rail and air travel, reduce productivity."

The German government last week drastically downgraded its growth forecast for 2024.

mf/msh (AFP, dpa)