In many places at Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday morning there was a gaping void at first. As announced, Lufthansa’s ground staff has been on strike since the early hours of the morning, including reception staff, aircraft technicians and tug drivers who push the planes to their correct positions at the airport.
It was very quiet in Terminal 1, which is mainly used by Lufthansa, a spokesman for Frankfurt airport operator Fraport said. Most switches are closed. In the late morning, long lines of travelers lined up in front of several busy counters. According to eyewitnesses, it was mainly foreign tourists who wanted to rebook their onward flight.
At Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt, 725 of the 1,160 flights scheduled for that day were canceled, a Fraport spokesman explained. This also applies to flights from other companies that are usually looked after by Lufthansa ground staff. Lufthansa itself has announced that 646 flights will be canceled due to the strike.
In addition to the hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, this also applies to Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hanover, Stuttgart and Cologne. The Lufthansa Group usually maintains smaller units there that also offer their services to other airlines. In total, around 1,000 flights were canceled. According to Lufthansa, this applies to a total of approximately 134,000 passengers. The airline has compiled all the relevant information on the website.
The cautionary strike initiated by the Verdi union by some 20,000 ground workers is expected to last until 6am Thursday morning. However, the strike is also expected to have an impact on air traffic in the coming days.
In the run-up to the strike, Lufthansa’s HR director Michael Niggemann criticized: “An early escalation after just two days of negotiation in the constructive wage round so far is causing enormous damage.” This places an additional heavy burden on passengers and employees in an already difficult phase of air traffic.
Lufthansa advised passengers affected not to come to the airports on Tuesday, as most of the stands there were not manned anyway. Passengers who have booked onward flights through German hubs are advised not to fly to German hubs unless the connecting flight has been confirmed. There is a risk that guests will not be able to travel for several hours or days.
Breakthrough in Stuttgart
Verdi and service provider SGS had their first successes as early as Wednesday at Stuttgart Airport. A collective agreement was achieved here. About 300 workers on the site are expected to progressively receive 18 percent higher wages, Verdi announced Wednesday. This breakthrough in the negotiations was possible because the Stuttgart employer, “also impressed by the Lufthansa warning strike”, understood “what a wage contract should look like in 2022,” explained negotiator Verdi Jan Blecert.
According to Verdi, the Stuttgart Collective Labor Agreement provides for a wage increase of eight percent from August onwards. They are to increase by another ten percent at the turn of the year. The collective agreement is valid until the end of June 2023.
Ground staff “Lufthansa piggy bank”
The main criticism was that the warning strike was taking place in the middle of the summer tourist season. In defense of union vice president Christine Behle on Wednesday said: RBB news radioThe ground staff “was really Lufthansa’s piggy bank”. The situation at the airports and among employees is “very tense”, so “there was no time” for “monthly negotiations”.
According to Behle, Lufthansa has not invested in personnel in recent years. Corona downsizing during a corona pandemic is “just the tip of the iceberg.” Before that enough, not enough had been done for the staff. “You also have to seriously ask if if you live in Munich, do you really want to start with a 2,100 euro station where you can’t really afford anything. This makes Lufthansa unattractive, ”Behle told Inforadio. That is why it is worth investing now: “Not only in new planes, modern equipment, but also in people.”
We are not planning any further strikes for the time being
After Wednesday’s ground staff warning strike, Lufthansa customers do not need to worry about further action from Verdi, at least until the next round of talks next week. Verdi negotiator Christine Behle said Wednesday in ZDF morning magazine to the appropriate question: “I can rule it out.” Verdi and Lufthansa want to speak again on 3rd and 4th August about the wages and working conditions of some 20,000 ground workers.
Little consolation for now affected passengers: after the warning strike, no further strikes are planned for the coming week
Stuck collective bargaining between Verdi and Lufthansa
Lufthansa’s first strike after the Corona shock takes place against the backdrop of a partially chaotic restart in the industry. Staff bottlenecks and the high demand for holidays have already led to severe processing problems this summer without any strikes. Verdi blames this on mismanagement at airports and airlines. Lufthansa airline chief Jens Ritter sees the progress made with this strike announcement. Walkout will charge customers and staff after the day of the strike, Ritter said on the LinkedIn platform.
The second round of collective bargaining between Lufthansa and Verdi for some 20,000 ground workers was unsuccessful. According to its own information, Lufthansa has offered a two-stage, flat-rate salary increase of a total of 250 euros over an 18-month period, accompanied by a profit-related increase of 2 percent from next July. With a basic monthly salary of € 3,000, this would mean an increase of 9 to 11 percent, the company has calculated. Verdi’s negotiator Christine Behle described the example as “nicely calculating.” For the other wage brackets, the increase is only around four percent and thus results in real wage losses for workers, she told the Stuttgarter Zeitung and Stuttgarter Nachrichten daily newspapers. The union demands 9.5 percent more money on the pay tables for a period of 12 months, but at least 350 euros.
iw / hb (dpa, afp, rtr)