Union starts strike at Lufthansa, hits 1,700 flights

Union dismisses airline's offer as 'scandalous'
By Ralf Banser and Vicky Bryan
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 04/22/2013

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — Lufthansa passengers faced chaos on Monday after the airline cancelled virtually all of its flights in Germany due to a strike by staff over pay.

"With the start of today's shift, a strike at all large airports has begun," Martina Soennichsen, a spokeswoman for German trade union Verdi said on Monday.

In Frankfurt alone, 2,000 Lufthansa employees started industrial action beginning at 3:00 a.m. GMT.

Overall, around 1,700 flights will be cancelled, Lufthansa said.

That leaves just 20 of its regular European short-haul flights running and only a handful of long-haul flights out of Frankfurt, Munich and Duesseldorf. The strikes will cost the airline tens of millions of euros.

Verdi, which represents 33,000 workers, is asking for a 5.2 per cent pay rise and job guarantees.

Lufthansa made a new offer last week to raise salaries by 1.2 per cent from October this year and a further 0.5 per cent a year later, in a deal that would run for 29 months and would not contain job guarantees.

Verdi dismissed the offer as "scandalous."

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