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Germany

Strikes force Lufthansa to cancel most Monday flights

Strikes by the union Verdi have forced Lufthansa to cancel almost all of its flights planned for Monday. The cancellations come after failed wage negotiations between the two sides.

Flugzeuge der Lufthansa stehen am Mittwoch (09.11.2005) auf dem Flughafen Frankfurt/Main. Foto: Jan Woitas +++(c) dpa - Report+++

Symbolbild Lufthansa Streik

Lufthansa has announced that only 32 of 1,720 flights will take off from German airports on Monday, with domestic and European flights particularly hard hit.

"Due to strike action announced for April 22, nearly all Lufthansa flights to German and European destinations must be canceled," the airline announced in a statement on Saturday.

International flights will also be affected. Only six of the 50 scheduled intercontinental flights will take off from Frankfurt am Main airport.

Lufthansa has asked travelers to visit www.lufthansa.com to check the current status of their flights. The airline has also activated a toll free information hotline for calls within Germany: 0800 850 60 70.

Passengers whose flights have been canceled on Monday can re-book or cancel their trips for free. Lufthansa is anticipating a loss of millions of euros.

Failed negotiations

Negotiations over wages and working conditions failed on Wednesday, when Verdi chief negotiator Christine Behle rejected an offer by Lufthansa. The union complained that the airline's management had offered wage increases of between .4 and .6 percent over the course of the first year.

"For employees that is a sharp reduction in real pay and in no way acceptable," said Behle.

Verdi called its strike on Friday after three rounds of pay talks failed to produce an agreement. The union is demanding wage hikes of 5.2 percent and job guarantees.

Lufthansa had countered that demand with a more than 3 percent wage hike for certain positions over the course of 29 months, according to human resources chief Stefan Lauer.

"A 24-hour strike is a de facto full strike and, in the context of progress in negotiations, a completely excessive measure by labor, which cannot be justified on the basis of the current state of negotiations," Lauer said in a press release.

The strike and flight cancellations come a month after a similar episode, in which Lufthansa was forced to cancel 700 of nearly 1,800 flights due to labor disputes.

slk/tm (AFP, dpa)