From Tuesday in Cologne/Bonn Verdi calls Lufthansa ground staff to new warning strike

Berlin · Once again, passengers will have to brace themselves for numerous Lufthansa flight cancellations this week. This time it is the ground staff who are to go on strike again. This will lead to cancellations at Cologne/Bonn Airport.

 A Lufthansa Boeing 787-9 aircraft stands on the runway at Frankfurt Airport.

A Lufthansa Boeing 787-9 aircraft stands on the runway at Frankfurt Airport.

Foto: dpa/Hannes P Albert

Lufthansa passengers are once again facing flight cancellations at several German airports this week. The trade union Verdi has called on the airline's ground staff to go on a warning strike on Tuesday in Frankfurt/Main, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne-Bonn and Stuttgart.

This 35-hour industrial action will affect more than 100,000 passengers, the airline says. Lufthansa is currently working on a special flight schedule, which will be published shortly, the company added.

Verdi announced in Berlin that the strike will begin at 4.00 a.m. on Tuesday and end at 7.10 a.m. on Wednesday. As all ground staff from maintenance to passenger and aircraft handling will be called out, there will most likely be major flight cancellations and delays. Different times will apply for non-passenger-related areas such as freight and technical services, Verdi said.

Just over a week and a half ago, 900 flights were cancelled because of a 27-hour warning strike by ground staff called by Verdi.

Next round of negotiations on Wednesday

According to the union, the background to the strike is the Group-wide collective pay negotiations for around 25,000 ground staff - including those at Deutsche Lufthansa, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik Logistik Services, Lufthansa Engineering and Operational Services and other Group companies. Lufthansa says there are around 20,000 employees.

The airline criticised the new warning strike, which is being announced despite what it describes as a significantly improved offer as well as agreed dates for further talks. Chief Human Resources Officer Michael Niggemann said that the warning strike would once again place a disproportionate burden on both passengers and employees.

"This is not the way to uphold the shared responsibility we have for our employees, for our customers, for a strong and reliable Lufthansa." The walkout is particularly bitter as the next round of negotiations is already taking place on Wednesday and Lufthansa has presented a far-reaching offer.

Discover colleagues are currently on strike

The three-day pilot strike at Lufthansa subsidiary Discover will not end until one minute before midnight (23:59) this Monday. The strike by Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) led to flight cancellations in Frankfurt and Munich at the weekend.

The company hopes to be able to operate two thirds of all Discover flights again this Monday. In the case of cancelled flights, the Group intended to either use jets from other Group companies or rebook the affected passengers.

The VC union has also called on pilots from the parent company Lufthansa to organise a solidarity strike for their Discover colleagues on Monday morning. Only Boeing 787 aircraft, of which Lufthansa only owns five, will be on strike for a period of four hours.

According to the airline, four departures are potentially affected during the planned strike period, but they are confident that these departures will take place as planned. Other aircraft types are not affected.

Offer was rejected

Verdi announced that no agreement had been reached in the third round of negotiations regarding the wage dispute for ground staff. The employers' offer was rejected by the vast majority of employees.

According to the statement, the further extension of the zero months from eight to eleven, the significantly lower increases for ground staff compared to other occupational groups in the Group, the length of the term and "completely unanswered issues" were criticised. The Group has also so far been unwilling to give employees back some of the income they have foregone during the Coronavirus pandemic in times of record profits.

"This is blatantly antisocial"

Verdi negotiator Marvin Reschinsky said that "the ground staff feel that they have once again been left out in the cold". While the Group is giving its pilots high double-digit pay rises with basic annual salaries of up to 270,000 euros, ground staff are not even being compensated for the price increases of recent years with starting hourly wages of 13 euros in some cases. "That is blatantly anti-social."

Management should have realised at the latest after the last warning strike. However, Lufthansa was not prepared to negotiate more than its sole offer. In addition to the Verdi demand for 12.5 per cent more pay, but at least 500 euros per month for a period of twelve months, an additional inflation compensation bonus of 3000 euros is also being demanded.

Lufthansa emphasised that it had submitted a "significantly improved offer that is based on the agreement reached by Verdi in the public sector". It provides for a minimum salary increase of around 10 per cent over 12 months as well as a "prompt payment" of one-off tax-free inflation compensation bonuses totalling 3000 euros. Over the past 18 months, the salaries of around 20,000 ground staff have already been increased by an average of 11.5 per cent.

(Original text: dpa / Translation: Jean Lennox)

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