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Union demands Lufthansa makes improved offer before agreeing fresh talks

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lufthansa ground staff attend a strike in Frankfurt, Germany, February 7, 2024. REUTERS/Maximilian Schwarz/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German labour union Verdi on Saturday demanded Lufthansa offers a higher wage increase for thousands of the German airline’s ground crew before it agrees to a fresh round of pay talks aimed at averting further industrial action.

Ground staff walked off the job at major airports on Tuesday in their second strike this month, which Lufthansa said had affected 100,000 passengers.

The fourth meeting in the dispute over pay for some 25,000 ground staff ended fruitlessly on Thursday and March 13 or 14 had been pencilled in beforehand as the next date for a meeting, but Verdi is now seeking an earlier meeting in order to speed a deal.

“Negotiators have asked Lufthansa to gather for a further meeting before March 13,” Verdi said in a statement. “However, the prerequisite for that is a significantly improved offer by the employer, that should be delivered (to us) beforehand.”

Germany has been hit by a number of nationwide strikes affecting air travel, railways and public transport, as workers faced with high inflation demand greater pay.

Employers have asked for a general cooling-off period giving priority to negotiations and more arbitration, as the strikes are costing industries customers and jobs.

Verdi said Lufthansa on Jan. 21 and 22 had only made two amendments to its initial offer, characterising those points as merely “small concessions”. Lufthansa had also lengthened the duration of a proposed new pay structure by three months to 28 months, Verdi said.

Verdi is demanding a wage rise of 12.5% or at least 500 euros ($541) more per month over a 12-month period, plus a one-time payment of 3,000 euros.

($1 = 0.9244 euros)

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