Some jobs give you more power than others. If, say, workers in a car factory go on strike, their employer is mostly interested. But most people hardly notice anything, after all, hundreds of thousands of cars are not missing overnight. The situation is different for bus drivers, train drivers and airline employees: they can now paralyze entire cities and even half the country. This is what happened last Wednesday when Lufthansa’s ground staff went on strike, check-in staff, suitcase packers, technicians. Almost nothing worked at the hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. Over 1,000 flights had to be canceled, Lufthansa lost many millions and some passengers lost the prospect of a relaxing holiday. The next clash will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the hotel at Frankfurt Airport. Lufthansa and Verdi’s delegations meet for a third round of negotiations. In the end, an agreement may be reached – but also more warning strikes. Here are the most important points:
What Verdi wants to achieve
The union demands 9.5 percent. higher earnings for 20,000 employees. For anyone earning less than € 3,700 gross, there should be a slightly larger increase of € 350. Verdi justifies the relatively high demand with the high inflation which has been maintained for months and amounted to 7.5% in July. Second, negotiators Christine Behle and Marvin Reschinsky point out that there have been no wage increases in the past two years. In the crisis hit by aviation in the wake of the krone pandemic, workers had to forgo their holiday pay and vacation pay, and many worked part-time. Third argument for soaring wages: Verdi criticizes that the workload increased sharply after the aviation industry laid off around a third of its workers. People work shifts around the clock and for a wage that is hard to keep, especially in metropolitan areas with airports. According to Verdi, the newcomer at the severance check receives around € 3,100 gross for full-time work.
The airline made an offer to Verdi. He wants to pay the employees 150 euros more immediately, also retroactively for July. From January 1, 2023, he wants to add another 100 euros. And if the group makes a profit, there should be a third increase of two percent from July 2023. Lufthansa wants the collective agreement to have a total duration of 18 months. These are “high and socially sustainable wages,” says HR director Michael Niggemann, who is negotiating for Lufthansa.
Why is Verdi not happy with this
The union sees it differently. € 250 more in two steps is not enough, says negotiator Marvin Reschinsky. Employees were also unable to plan with an additional 2%. “Growth depends on the group’s profits. This is not possible because the employees ultimately have no control over whether Lufthansa makes large investments and is therefore in the red. ” The union also questions the proposed 18-month term of the collective agreement. It would prefer to include shorter deadlines so that it can react soon again – for example, if inflation continues to rise in 2023.
Last week’s warning
Verdi and Lufthansa blame each other for last week’s downtime. “Escalation”, “tremendous damage”, “already disproportionate” is the statement of the group. In turn, unions say Lufthansa had two days after the announcement to negotiate and avoid warning strikes. But no one tried. Either way, they all suffered damage afterwards: the day of the strike is said to have cost Lufthansa around € 100 million, with 134,000 passengers injured. In turn, Verdi was criticized in numerous tabloids and major media, which could damage her reputation.
Are new strikes threatening?
It is quite possible. While an agreement can be reached on the ground staff on Thursday, the third round of negotiations is usually the last one in collective bargaining. The motivation to reach an agreement should also be present on both sides, as the recent warning strike only brought losers. For example, Verdi may waive a small proportion of Lufthansa’s wage demands in return for this term of office. However, the offer must at least compensate for inflation, said deputy chief executive Verdi Behle of the SZ: “This is crucial to prevent further warning strikes.” But even if the collective bargaining partners can reach an agreement, this does not mean that passengers will be spared strikes in the near future. Because apart from negotiations with the ground staff, something is going on with the pilots. Their relationship between Vereinigung Cockpit and Lufthansa was caught up in a wage conflict. On the one hand, Cockpit is demanding a 5.5 percent salary increase and automatic inflation compensation for 2023. In addition, the union is demanding a unified fare structure, which means that ultimately the same conditions should apply to all Lufthansa pilots, which is considered complex. On Sunday, the pilots almost unanimously voted in favor of the strike, which has not yet been requested. Internally, it is said that further talks will be held, at least informally. For passengers, pilots and Lufthansa, this is at least a ray of hope.