UFO Union Issues Fresh Threat Of Lufthansa Strikes

After having agreed to arbitration following an earlier strike by Lufthansa cabin crew, the UFO union is threatening further industrial action unless Lufthansa meets their wage demands. Earlier this month, Lufthansa subsidiary airline cabin crew went on a two-day strike over pay and pensions, forcing Germany’s largest airline to cancel one in five flights.

Negotiations between UFO and Lufthansa have broken down. Photo: Lufthansa

The airlines in which cabin crew walked out were Eurowings Germany, Germanwings, Sun Express Germany and Lufthansa City Line. The cancellations inconvenienced 180,000 Lufthansa passengers and cost the airline somewhere between $11m and $22m.

Lufthansa failed in the courts to stop the strike

What the Lufthansa subsidiary airline cabin crew wants is more expenses and allowances for flight attendants and more opportunities for seasonal staff to be hired full time. To stop the strike from taking place Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr tried unsuccessfully to get a court order to prevent the cabin crew from striking.

UFO to announce strike dates next Thursday if no progress is made. Photo: Lufthansa

Once no other options were left open other than agreeing to the union’s demands, Lufthansa offered to negotiate.

Cabin crew union representatives hinted today that if Lufthansa did not meet their wage demands they would look to call strikes during the busy Christmas and New Year holiday season. The UFO Union said that if no progress was made during the current talks they would announce next Thursday when strikes would take place and how long they would last.

UFO says Lufthansa is trying to blackmail them

A spokesperson for Lufthansa said that they would use the coming days to come up with a solution that both the airlines and the cabin crew union could agree to.

They also made it clear that a solution to the on-going problems could only be resolved by the two sides sitting down together at the table.

“You can’t strike and arbitrate at the same time.” Photo: Lufthansa

While reporting on the latest union news of Christmas strikes Euronews quotes the Lufthansa spokesman with saying:

“You can’t strike and arbitrate at the same time.”       

It would now appear as if talks between the UFO union who represent 21,000 workers and Lufthansa have broken down. Apparently, the talks failed because the cabin crew union would not renounce their right to call a strike.

Again in a comment carried by Euronews, they quote a UFO union representative of saying that Lufthansa was trying to “blackmail” the trade union.

When you look into the crux of the matter, it is not about money, but rather Lufthansa’s refusal to recognize the UFO union. The agreement, Lufthansa had in place with its flight attendants expired during the summer and now the union is looking to negotiate a 1.8% pay increase over the next six months.

Why wouldn’t Lufthansa agree when the union was asking for so little?

The fact is that it is much more complicated than it would seem on the surface with the German national flag carrier refusing to recognize UFO’s right to bargain on behalf of the cabin crew.

Lufthansa’s failure to stop the strike in the courts tells you a different story, though with the judge obviously recognizing UFO as the representative of the workers.

If Lufthansa continues to not recognize UFO’s legitimacy and thinks it can muster enough flight attendants to cover striking workers, a Christmas strike could very well be on the cards.