MIn the midst of the flight chaos of the first high season after the compulsory Corona break, collective bargaining for around 20,000 ground workers started at Lufthansa on Thursday. In view of the high workload of the staff and rising inflation, the Verdi union has set an exclamation mark with a demand for 9.5 percent or at least 350 euros more monthly wages. Verdi Vice President Christine Behle personally conducts the negotiations for the stronghold of the union in the aviation industry, which start at 4:00 p.m. In her view, too many staff cuts at Lufthansa in the Corona crisis and poor pay are the causes of the massive disruptions in flight operations at the moment. Tens of thousands of vacationers are just bathing them with flight cancellations, rebookings, queues and delays. Lufthansa has had to cancel more than 3,000 flights for the summer.
According to Verdi, Lufthansa ground staff suffer from stress. “Many of them left the job because of the uncertainties and overwork, so that the density of tasks has become even more massive than it was before the pandemic,” explained Behle, who, as Deputy Chairwoman of the Lufthansa Supervisory Board, has a deep insight into the company. However, the union itself does not shy away from paralyzing the already stumbling operation with strikes if negotiations get stuck. The peace obligation ends on June 30 – industrial action is therefore theoretically possible from now on. “Of course we also consider warning strikes if the negotiations don’t go in the right direction,” said a Verdi spokesman. Lufthansa would be well advised to submit an offer, he added.
The union has also used its currently higher bargaining power elsewhere, for example with strikes at Easyjet in Berlin or this Friday with a 24-hour strike by maintenance staff at Hamburg Airport. Collective bargaining is also ongoing or pending at Verdi for ground handling services at Düsseldorf, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart airports. After three all-day strikes, Verdi concluded a new collective agreement for security personnel at airports nationwide in March.
Lufthansa expressed understanding for the employees’ need to catch up when it comes to pay, but considers the demand to be too high in view of their economic situation, which is only just improving. “On the one hand, the company has to pay off large debts. On the other hand, the high price of kerosene and the ongoing war in Ukraine pose economic risks,” said Lufthansa. “Against this background, it is a matter of a moderate balance of all framework conditions in order to achieve a good conclusion here.”
In the Corona crisis, the MDax group had to be saved from bankruptcy with state aid worth billions. Most of these have now been repaid, but debts to private lenders have increased. The airline group cut a good 30,000 jobs worldwide to around 105,000 most recently, and in Germany the number of jobs fell by 13,000 to 60,500. Under the pressure of the crisis, the management has exaggerated in one place or another with the savings, admitted Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr this week. Several thousand new hires in Europe are planned to cope with the long-awaited ramp-up of passenger flights.