fFor air travelers, the most important message of the wage agreement between Lufthansa and Verdi is that at least the airline’s ground staff will no longer go on strike. However, the risk remains that the pilots will soon frustrate their travel plans. Or Verdi again soon – with city airport workers strikes in the upcoming round of collective bargaining for the public sector.
However, the new Lufthansa contract also sends a substantive message with basic material for the discussion of the world of wage policy: on the one hand, it sometimes goes well beyond the inflation rate: plus 19.2 percent with a basic salary of 2,000 euros per month; plus 8.3 percent at 6,500 euros. On the other hand, as the percentages show, the package is graded steeply by salary classes. Trade union speaking calls it a “strong social component.”
At first glance, the height itself may seem worthy of discussion. The thoughts of tearing down borders into a terrifying spiral of prices and wages are obvious.
Cost pressure remains
However, they are put in perspective by the fact that Lufthansa’s tariff packages are not a macro-economic factor. And there is a possible reason for air traffic fares being higher than average – the unexpectedly high demand for flights has led to an acute shortage of staff.
But behind the new, also inflationary, popularity of the “social components” lies a crucial point: trade unions have always liked them, because lower-wage groups are most represented in their membership. The fact that inflation is hitting them hard now strengthens their position.
However, with the growing shortage of skilled workers, is it really advisable to reward their work less than unskilled workers? Employers who do not want to do this simply feel compelled to do so under cost pressure – otherwise wage contracts would be even more expensive.
It is certainly not bad if nowadays not only the state but also the policy of collective bargaining assume a certain social responsibility. However, they should not forget about their responsibility for a forward-looking HR policy, which also includes attractive returns on qualifications.