Ground workers cripple Lufthansa flights in Germany

Ground workers cripple Lufthansa flights in Germany

Last Wednesday, Lufthansa’s 20,000 ground staff largely crippled Europe’s largest airline, in terms of passenger-kilometres. The company canceled more than a thousand flights, including 680 in Frankfurt and 350 in Munich; 134,000 passengers were affected.

Flights canceled at Frankfurt Airport [AP Photo/Michael Probst] [AP Photo/Michael Probst] [AP Photo/Michael Probst]

The strike shows the enormous power workers have when they decide to fight. But the Verdi union, which has called for a one-day ‘warning strike’, has no intention of using that power. Verdi manager Christine Behle, who is leading collective bargaining with Lufthansa, assured ARD news outlet that there would be no further action until the next round of negotiations on August 3: “I can rule out this possibility. . »

But Lufthansa employees can only win their fight for better wages and working conditions if they break with Verdi. This union has not the slightest intention of enforcing its own wage demands and even less of taking action against the intolerable working conditions. He is officially asking for a raise of 9.5 percent, or at least €350 extra salary per month for a period of 12 months. That would roughly offset inflation, but not make up for the massive loss of revenue in recent years.

Behle justified Verdi’s salary demand by pointing to the precarious situation facing Lufthansa employees. More than a third of jobs had been lost during the coronavirus crisis. Their work now had to be done by the remaining employees, who were “exposed daily to the wrath of passengers”.

“The constraints are extremely high and many are considering leaving aviation for good,” Behle complained. After “three years of wage sacrifices to stabilize the company during the pandemic”, she added, employees had also been particularly affected by high inflation.

Faced with such cynicism, one is almost speechless given that Verdi and Behle herself ensured that Lufthansa was able to lay off thousands of ground and cabin crew, and impose the “wage sacrifice” to those who remained.

Behle, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), is not only vice-president of the Verdi trade union, but also vice-president of the supervisory board of Lufthansa. In this role, which earns her an annual salary of €140,000, she is in constant contact with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and shareholders.

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