Lufthansa workers to go on strike on Thursday

Workers seek wage increases, job security

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — German union Verdi has called on 33,000 workers at Deutsche Lufthansa to go on strike on March 21 to increase pressure on the airline in a dispute over wages and job security.

The strike is expected to last for about five hours from 5:00 a.m., the union said on March 20, potentially disrupting hundreds of flights ahead of the next round of wage talks on March 22.

In negotiations that started last month, Verdi is demanding a 5.2 per cent increase in wages for 12 months for employees on the ground at Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Systems and catering unit LSG Sky Chefs, as well as a commitment by Lufthansa to safeguard jobs.

Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline by revenue, has said it wants to freeze pay and ask employees to work one hour more each week to help it to remain competitive in a tough market.

Efforts by big European airlines, such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and British Airways, to shrink costs in the face of soaring jet fuel prices and fierce competition have fanned tensions with workers.

Strikes at Spanish airline Iberia, for instance, caused thousands of flight cancellations at a cost of about 30 million euros until workers accepted a mediated deal last week.

Thursday's strike at Lufthansa will affect operations across Germany, though Hamburg and the airline's main hub in Frankfurt will be most affected, the union said.

A spokeswoman for Lufthansa, which has a total of about 118,000 employees, said the airline was preparing for the strike and would seek to minimize the impact on passengers.

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