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Germany: After Paralyzing Railroads, Strike Takes to Skies!

Translated Friday 24 October 2014, by Gene Zbikowski

Lufthansa pilots extended their strike to long-haul flights on Oct. 20. It’s the eighth strike in the year. Train drivers struck for 50 hours over Oct. 18-19.

Since the beginning of the year, the pilots of the German airline, Lufthansa, have been fighting corporate management over the conditions for early retirement. The Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) trade union had already announced a strike beginning at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20, and on Oct. 21 for short and medium-haul flights. On Oct. 20 it warned that long-haul flights would also be affected on Oct. 21.

Lufthansa management announced on the evening of Oct. 19 that it was cancelling 1,450 flights concerning over 200,000 passengers because of the strike, which followed a work stoppage by train drivers over the Oct. 18-19 weekend.

The air and rail strikes come as school holidays begin in nearly half the 16 German Länder.

VC, which represents some 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, wants to keep the rules that allow pilots to retire from age 55 and to receive 60% of their salary until retirement at age 65. The trade union has proposed a plan to cover the cost of the measure.

For its part, Lufthansa management is proposing to maintain the set-up for workers who joined the company before this year. But it wants to up the retirement age for new hirees as soon as possible.

Over the Oct. 18-19 weekend, Deutsche Bahn train drivers held a 50-hour strike, the third strike in less than two weeks. The strike paralyzed two-thirds of the national trains. The GDL trade union is demanding a 5% wage hike for 20,000 drivers and a reduction in the work week from 39 to 37 hours. It also wants to be able to negotiate wage contracts for all rail workers.

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