Lufthansa, Union Reach Pay Deal for Ground Staff

The German airline and the union representing its ground staff have ended a pay dispute, a week after a one-day strike that forced the airline to cancel more than 1,000 flights.

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Lufthansa and a union representing its ground staff in Germany reached a deal Thursday to end a pay dispute, a week after a one-day strike that forced the airline to cancel more than 1,000 flights.

The deal between Lufthansa and the Ver.di service workers' union, covering some 20,000 staff in various ground operations, entails one-time payments of US$203 each, backdated to July 1.

The agreement also includes an increase in monthly basic salaries of 2.5 percent — or at least US$127 per employee — effective Jan. 1, and another 2.5 percent from July 1 next year. The deal is valid for 18 months.

Lufthansa personnel chief Michael Niggemann said in a statement that "in view of the still-high burdens from the pandemic and the uncertain economy, we stretched the salary increase over several steps and ensured longer-term security of planning with an 18-month duration."

Ver.di chief negotiator Christine Behle said that the outcome would even mean an effective raise of up to 18.4 percent for employees at check-in, arguing that result compensates for high inflation and also means an increase in real wages. The union had initially sought a 9.5 percent pay increase this year. 

The strike it staged on Wednesday last week added to recent travel turmoil in Europe. Lufthansa says that walkout cost it around 35 million euros.

Lufthansa still has to resolve a separate pay dispute with a union representing pilots. That union said Sunday that pilots had voted in favor of possible strike action, but walkouts could still be avoided.