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Another strike at DB and Lufthansa: Germany is facing enormous travel chaos

Updated: Mar 19


Strikes at Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn

In Germany, a double strike in rail and air transport was announced yesterday, Monday, initiated by the GDL and Verdi unions. The planned strike action, which is scheduled to take place this week, promises significant travel stress for thousands upon thousands of people. It can be assumed that the effects of these strikes will also be felt in Austria.


Rail freight traffic will be on strike from Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. until early Friday morning at 5 a.m. The strike in passenger transport starts at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning and is planned to last until 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon. This marks the fifth strike in the collective bargaining dispute between Deutsche Bahn and the GDL union that has been simmering for months.


GDL is planning strikes in wave form


After the once again unsuccessful collective bargaining talks with the railway, GDL chairman Claus Weselsky announced that the strike would last 35 hours. This will be followed by further unannounced strikes, which will be carried out as so-called wave strikes. “We will carry out strikes whenever we deem it necessary. In this way, the railway becomes an unreliable mode of transport,” he said.


Lufthansa ground staff strike starts on Thursday


Verdi had recently called for warning strikes among Lufthansa ground staff. On Thursday and Friday it is planned that the entire ground staff will stop work. The strike begins at 4 a.m. on Thursday and ends at 7:10 a.m. on Saturday. This will also lead to significant disruptions in air traffic. Different times are planned for the freight and technology areas, sometimes as early as Wednesday evening. Lufthansa has stated that the strike duration totals 59 hours, adding up to a total of 145 hours of warning strike over the previous rounds.


Fifth wave of strikes in the railway tariff dispute


Claus Weselsky, the chairman of the GDL train drivers' union, announced another strike on Monday after collective bargaining talks with Deutsche Bahn failed again. This strike marks the fifth round of labor disputes in the collective bargaining dispute that has been going on for months.


The union broke off the latest negotiations on Thursday after about four weeks. “The strike will last 35 hours. We are choosing exactly this period of time so that it is obvious to everyone in the republic what our concern is: We are demanding a 35-hour week,” explained Weselsky.


The GDL and Deutsche Bahn have been struggling to draft a new collective agreement for some time. At the heart of the conflict is the union's desire to reduce the weekly working hours for shift workers from 38 to 35 hours without them having to accept financial losses.


Lufthansa: Strike affects 200,000 passengers


In a renewed attempt to increase the pressure on the Lufthansa Group, it is planned not to allow a maximum number of flights to take off on Thursday and Friday. According to Lufthansa, around 200,000 passengers will be affected by this measure.


“Strikes outweigh negotiations”


Michael Niggemann, human resources director, criticized Verdi for their apparently conscious decision to escalate: “There is significantly more strike activity than willingness to talk.” He argued that the union's rigid position is damaging the company, countless customers and employees. “In contrast to other areas affected by Verdi strikes, our customers have other options to choose from due to international competition.” This fact is being ignored by the union management.


At the same time, collective bargaining negotiations are taking place for around 25,000 employees of private aviation security services at major German airports. When asked, a spokesman mentioned that it was possible that these employees could join the Lufthansa strikers.


In previous rounds of strikes, each of which lasted a little more than a day and targeted customer-facing ground staff, Lufthansa canceled 80 to 90 percent of its flights. This led to hundreds of flights having to be canceled, mainly at the Frankfurt and Munich hubs. A strike by aviation security employees could result in the airports having to be completely closed to passengers, as no one would then be checked before entering.


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