As many as 20,000 ground workers at German flag carrier Lufthansa are to stage a one-day ‘warning strike’ on Wednesday in a move that is expected to wreak chaos across Lufthansa’s flight operations.
The walkout will include a wide range of ground workers including gate agents, engineers and pushback drivers. The strike was called by the Ver.di United Services union which says it expects “major flight cancellations and delays” as a result of the industrial action.
The union is calling for a pay rise of at least 9.5 per cent or €350 per month – whichever is greater, along with a minimum wage of €13 per hour. Some staff within Lufthansa’s cargo handling companies earn just €12 per hour, the union claims.
Talks between the union and the airline broke down after just two days following the start of the second round of negotiations last week. Lufthansa has offered a minimum pay increase of €250 per month, plus a 2 per cent pay rise from 1 July, 2023.
Christine Behle, vice chairman of the Ver.di union said ground workers were under increasing pressure due to staff shortages, a three-year pandemic pay freeze and rapidly rising inflation.
“They urgently need more money and they need relief, for themselves and for the passengers. The employer offer at the front and back is not enough for this,” Behle said after the strike was announced on Monday.
Striking employees are set to walk out at 3:45 am on Wednesday and won’t return to work until 6 am on Thursday. Workers will walk out at all of Lufthansa’s German airports including Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt/Main, Hamburg, and Munich.
The scale of the strike could see disruption through the rest of the week. Lufthansa denounced the strike, saying it would place an “unnecessary burden” on passengers and other staff.
Negotiators on both sides are not expected to meet again until 3rd August for a third round of talks. The delay means that Wednesday’s strike action is almost a foregone conclusion.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.