May 20, 2024

Germany has again been hit by a double wave of strikes in the transport sector, as train drivers and aeroplane cabin crews stopped work on Tuesday in ongoing wage disputes.

Around 80% of long-distance trains were cancelled on Tuesday as train drivers from the state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn went on strike.

At major air hubs Frankfurt and Munich, tens of thousands passengers were having to reschedule their flights due to a two-day strike by the cabin crew union Ufo at Lufthansa.

Individual flights were also cancelled at other locations such as Berlin’s international airport.

On Tuesday afternoon, the verdi trade union announced that it is also calling for an all-day strike on Thursday at several German airports including Berlin and Hamburg.

Unions representing rail and airline workers had not co-ordinated their actions. Despite this, it was the second time in just a few days that workers at both Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn went on strike.

The GDL train drivers’ union has called repeated strikes of Deutsche Bahn as part of bitter collective bargaining talks. At Lufthansa, a separate trade union representing ground staff at the airline went on strike last week.

A German appeals court again rejected Deutsche Bahn’s effort to block the strike by train drivers in a hearing on Tuesday afternoon.

The strike in Deutsche Bahn’s passenger transport began at 2 am (0100 GMT) on Tuesday and is expected to last 24 hours, a railway spokeswoman confirmed.

The railway has organized an emergency timetable to secure about a fifth of long-distance train services. Regional services and Deutsche Bahn’s suburban trains are also affected.

Freight rail service also faced massive disruptions due to the strike, with industrial firms in Germany complaining about the impact on business. The important chemical and automotive sectors were particularly hard-hit by the strike.

This is the sixth industrial action by GDL in the current round of collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, flight attendants of German carrier Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport went on strike early on Tuesday, the cabin crew union Ufo said.

The action at Germany’s busiest airport started at 4 am (0300 GMT) and was due to last until 11 pm, a union spokeswoman confirmed.

Some 600 flights were expected to be cancelled due to the industrial action, according to the national carrier, affecting 70,000 passengers.

Just hours later, Lufthansa cabin crew at Munich Airport are set to strike from 4 am to 11 pm on Wednesday. Lufthansa estimates that that strike would result in 400 flights being cancelled and some 50,000 passengers unable to take off.

And aviation security personnel at a number of key German airports are to go on strike on Thursday, verdi said.

The all-day strike on Thursday will affect the airports in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe/Baden Baden, verdi announced in Berlin on Tuesday.

The union called on employees in passenger screening, people and goods screening, cargo screening and service areas to stop work.

This is to press the union’s demands for base pay to rise by €2.80 ($3.06) and hour and for extra pay on top for overtime starting with the first hour of overtime worked.

At the weekend, the Ufo union had called on the approximately 19,000 flight attendants at Lufthansa and its subsidiary Lufthansa Cityline to go on strike.

More than 96% of cabin crew of the core company and at Lufthansa CityLine had previously voted for industrial action in separate strike ballots, Ufo said.

Ufo is asking for a 15% increase in pay for flight assistants and also wants an inflation compensation bonus of €3,000 ($3,280).

This is one of several current wage disputes for Lufthansa. Last week, ground staff organized by verdi paralysed much of Lufthansa’s passenger traffic with what was now their fifth wave of industrial action.

Negotiations with verdi are due to resume on Wednesday.

Germany has been hit by repeated strikes in the transport sector in recent months. Local public transit workers in much of the country staged a separate strike two weeks ago.

Thorsten Schulten with the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation told dpa that the strikes come as a severe shortage of skilled labour in Germany has given workers “a new self-confidence” and greater leverage in negotiations.

A view of parked Lufthansa aircrafts at Frankfurt Airport. Flight attendants of German carrier Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport went on strike early on Tuesday, the cabin crew union Ufo said. Lando Hass/dpaA view of parked Lufthansa aircrafts at Frankfurt Airport. Flight attendants of German carrier Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport went on strike early on Tuesday, the cabin crew union Ufo said. Lando Hass/dpa

A view of parked Lufthansa aircrafts at Frankfurt Airport. Flight attendants of German carrier Lufthansa at Frankfurt Airport went on strike early on Tuesday, the cabin crew union Ufo said. Lando Hass/dpa

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