Unions take transatlantic action to end poverty wages and uncertainty at Lufthansa subsidiary

September 6, 2019

At a time of record airline profits, US, German and British unions are teaming up to campaign for better labour standards at the airline catering provider LSG Sky Chefs.

Owned by Lufthansa, LSG supplies catering services to a range of major transport providers, most notably American Airlines in all three countries, which has made over $12 billion in profit since 2015. Despite this, LSG workers face low pay and patchy coverage by employment benefits.

Workers from the US, Germany and Britain account for over 20,000 of LSG’s global workforce of 35,000 people. In July, German workers attended a rally in Washington DC organised by ITF’s US affiliate UNITE HERE, where the workers won support for their campaign from presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

In August, 58 workers were arrested at American Airlines’ headquarters in Texas for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience to protest against poverty level wages. LSG and American Airlines workers from Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand also attended the Dallas actions, reflecting the global concern about these companies. US catering workers remain ready to strike after balloting earlier in the summer, if and when released by the country’s National Mediation Board.

Yesterday [5 September 2019], in Frankfurt, ITF’s German affiliate ver.di hosted an international conference of LSG workers with a focus on Lufthansa’s planned sale of the company, which could also impact British workers organised by fellow affiliate Unite. The ITF and its affiliates demand that Lufthansa call off the sale. Following the summit, hundreds of LSG and Lufthansa workers from Germany, Britain and the US protested at Frankfurt airport and outside Lufthansa’s headquarters.

Today [6 September 2019], at London’s Heathrow airport, workers from these three companies again leafleted American Airlines passengers and executives, demanding that the company step in to end poverty wages and ensure affordable health insurance for workers who serve its passengers.

“I was evicted from my home because I couldn’t keep paying my rent, even though I was working full time for LSG” says Tenae Stover, a worker from Washington DC who travelled to Europe as part of the union delegation.

“Whether it’s Lufthansa, British Airways or American Airlines, our fight to end poverty wages in the same. We all work in the same profitable industry and it’s up to the airlines, in particular Lufthansa as the owner and American as the main client, to take responsibility for the pain and uncertainty that they’re causing.”

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