Lufthansa ground staff: Collective bargaining is a great hope

Status: 03/08/2022 03:27

Collective negotiations between Lufthansa and ver.di on wage increases for ground staff are entering the third round. Is there an agreement or is there another strike?

We look forward to today’s meeting at a large hotel at Frankfurt Airport. Not least from ver.di, which is now counting on a clear concession from Lufthansa following the ground staff warning strike last week in collective bargaining; but also from vacationers and business passengers who are hoping for a key message: avoiding further warning strikes through a tariff solution. It would also be in the interest of the airlines, strikes cost a lot of money.

Compromise instead of confrontation?

Ver.di recently took a confrontation course. Exactly one week ago, many of the approximately 20,000 Lufthansa ground workers had a single day break from Wednesday to Thursday morning. As a result, the two largest German airports in Frankfurt am Main and Munich were largely paralyzed. More than 1,000 flights were canceled and around 134,000 passengers were affected, including many vacationers.

“We hope the employers have understood the signal and will present us with an offer that can be closed,” says ver.di negotiator Christine Behle ahead of the start of a new round of collective bargaining – It took us two days and we hope to achieve the result in this round. But it depends on employers being more inclined to approach us, ver.di vice president said.

The workers’ union continues to demand a uniform wage increase of 9.5 percent or at least EUR 350 per month for Lufthansa ground staff, i.e. employees of Lufthansa AG Ground, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Cargo and other subsidiaries of the company. These include check-in employees, but also technicians and logisticians, without whose services the plane cannot take off. ver.di wants a new collective agreement for them for a period of twelve months.

Differences and similarities

Lufthansa, on the other hand, previously offered 18 months. At least an approximation seems possible here. Employers and employees are a little further apart when it comes to monthly salary increases. Lufthansa wants to agree on fixed amounts which, while representing an increase of almost 15 percent in the lower salary range, are below the 350 euro per month required by ver.di. In the higher wage classes, the percentage increase is also well below 9.5%.

Biggest criticism from ver.di: The airlines also want to make the increases conditional on the development of their own business, which brings with it further uncertainty in the current pandemic situation. “What was offered in the second round was definitely not enough,” explains ver.di representative Behle. “Also, the employers just wanted to make a second pay raise in a results-oriented manner. However, this would be a blank check for the employees, so it was out of the question for us. “

Both sides are willing to compromise

For its part, Lufthansa is waiting for negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday. “We are optimistic about the talks with ver.di and we are confident that we can jointly agree on solutions for the 20,000 employees of Deutsche Lufthansa AG in the negotiations,” says Lufthansa spokesman Martin Leutke.

Behind the scenes, the situation is estimated based on information from: that a solution to the collective bargaining dispute should be found this week, also because the two sides do not seem to be that far away in their ideas. And vice president of ver.di Behle emphasizes: “Of course, in negotiations, both sides must always compromise.” However, according to Behle, an airline with cranes needs to significantly improve its offering and move. “This is what workers expect when they are under tremendous pressure, both in terms of workload and finances.”

More warnings?

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) called on both sides to find a swift solution ahead of the upcoming negotiations, thereby adding to the pressure again. Earlier this week, ver.di celebrated its success when the union was able to agree with several small transhipment companies at German airports to raise wages for ground staff to 26 percent. On the other hand, Lufthansa is in a difficult overall situation as Lufthansa pilots also voted in favor of the voting strike last Sunday after being stuck in collective bargaining. However, the group is still trying to prevent this from happening.

A timely solution between Lufthansa and its ground staff could at least provide a bit of relaxation at German airports, also for many travelers during the holiday season. But negotiator ver.di Behle warns: “Employers have everything in their hands to prevent further warning strikes.”

Collective bargaining at Lufthansa is entering another round

Roman Warszawa, HR, 03/08/2022 06:21

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