German flag carrier Lufthansa has canceled 1,023 flights at both its German airport hubs in Frankfurt and Munich due to a ground staff strike. The cancellations are expected to impact 134,000 passengers, with the work stoppage taking place at the start of the summer vacation season for the southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. The ground staff union claims its members are overworked and frustrated with a three-year wage freeze.
The strike began early this morning at 3:45am local time and is scheduled to continue until 6:00am tomorrow. The strike was called by Verdi, the union which represents 20,000 Lufthansa ground staff, after talks with Lufthansa stalled during the second round of negotiations. Verdi’s deputy chairwoman Christine Behle told German news outlet Deutsche Welle, “They urgently need more money and they need relief, for themselves and for passengers. The employers’ offer is not enough for that.”
Michael Niggemann, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labor Director of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said in a statement:
The early escalation of a previously constructive collective bargaining round is causing enormous damage. It affects our passengers in particular, who are impacted during the peak travel season. And it is putting an additional heavy strain on our employees in an already difficult phase for air traffic. In view of our high offer with very substantial pay increases over the next 12 months of more than 10 percent more in the pay groups up to 3,000 euros monthly basic pay and a 6 percent increase for a monthly basic pay of 6,500 euros, this so-called warning strike in the middle of the peak summer travel season is simply no longer proportionate.
Lufthansa’s offer to increase ground-staff wages is not a permanent raise — it would only last 18 months. Verdi is demanding a permanent 9.5-percent pay increase. Negotiations are scheduled to resume next week.
In a message aimed at passengers, Verdi said, “We want a functioning air traffic without stress and strain for our passengers and us employees. Lufthansa has cut too many staff during the pandemic.” Like many airlines during the pandemic, Lufthansa laid off thousands of workers and is now struggling to hire replacements as the commercial aviation industry recovers. Over the past month, the German airline canceled 2,000 flights due to staff shortages.