While Lufthansa’s Strikes Were Cancelled, Its Subsidiaries Weren’t So Lucky

Customers of Lufthansa have thankfully managed to avoid flight disruption today. The German airline canceled its planned strikes, but some of its subsidiaries were not so lucky.

While Lufthansa’s Strikes Were Cancelled, Its Subsidiaries Weren’t So Lucky
It was business as usual for Lufthansa, but its subsidiaries suffered strikes. Photo: Lufthansa Group

Strikes for subsidiaries

Strikes were planned to go ahead today for cabin crew of the Lufthansa Group belonging to the UFO Union. The strikes were in protest to a disagreement over cabin crew wages. However, earlier this week we reported that the strikes had been called off.

Lufthansa agreed to pay its staff a 2% salary increase, which prevented industrial action. According to Deutsche Welle, the UFO union praised the move. It said:

“…the cabin crew has managed to make it clear to the management that the beaten path of intimidation will not work.”

While Lufthansa’s Strikes Were Cancelled, Its Subsidiaries Weren’t So Lucky
The UFO Union was happy that Lufthansa had listened to its staff. Photo: Lufthansa Group

The news meant that there would be no strikes for Lufthansa. It was good news, so we thought. But now members of other airlines have decided to continue with the strike.

That’s because the UFO Union does not only represent Lufthansa but also cabin crew in its subsidiaries. For this reason, Germanwings, Eurowings, Lufthansa Cityline and Sunexpress all have cabin crew on strike today over pay and pensions.

The strikes already have caused disruption at German airports including Berlin, Munich, Cologne-Bonn and Düsseldorf, according to Deutsche Welle. And the disruption set to continue.

Industrial action was expected to last six hours but has now been extended to continue for 13. Some 300 flights are expected to be disrupted and 60,000 passengers affected, according to Aeronautics Online.

A spokesperson told us about the effect of the strikes on Lufthansa Cityline. They said:

“So far, individual flights had to be cancelled. We will communicate a final number of affected flights and passengers after the strike period (midnight).”

While Lufthansa’s Strikes Were Cancelled, Its Subsidiaries Weren’t So Lucky
It’s expected that the strikes will affect 60,000 passengers. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

Why did Lufthansa agree to a salary increase?

Whilst on the surface it seems good that Lufthansa was able to avert mass disruption to its airline, its decision to increase wages might go a little deeper than cabin crew demands. Did Lufthansa make the decision because it believed in its crew’s needs or to avert unwanted attention from the UFO union?

Although Lufthansa’s decision might make it seem like it listened to the union, the decision to go beyond the 1.8% salary increase required of it might show its non-compliance with the organization. A 2% increase might seem like it’s acted somewhat off its own back.

Lufthansa has been vocal in its respect (or lack of) towards the UFO. It previously called the strikes organized by the union ‘illegal’ since Lufthansa does not deem the trade union to be characteristically lawful.

The airline says the current leaders were unlawfully elected, therefore the union does not have the authority to represent the views of its staff. The two parties have an upcoming hearing to discuss this further on 30th April 2020.

What was the union demanding?

While Lufthansa’s Strikes Were Cancelled, Its Subsidiaries Weren’t So Lucky
Sunexpress was demanding the largest salary increase. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer via Flickr

As we previously reported, the union proposed the following changes:

  • 1.8% salary increase at Lufthansa;
  • 2% salary increase at Lufthansa CityLine;
  • 5% salary increase at Sunexpress Germany;
  • A previously negotiated pension at Eurowings;
  • A matter previously the subject of strike action at Germanwings.

Have you been affected by the strikes? Do you think the other Lufthansa Group airlines should have called off strike action? Let us know.