Lufthansa is facing the prospect of cabin crew strikes – not only at the mainline brand but also other group airlines like Austrian and SWISS – and they could start as early as July if new reports are to be believed. The threat of strike action was raised yesterday by the Independent Flight Attendant Organisation (UFO) who have so far failed to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with senior executives at Lufthansa.
The UFO has been rocked by a serious internal conflict which has included allegations of fraud, corruption and nepotism. A number of high-ranking union officials have been forced to stand down and there have even been calls for a police investigation. In the short-term, the UFO says its airline-specific unions are functional and ready to represent their members but confidence in the union has undoubtedly taken a battering.
The UFO claims Lufthansa has been taking advantage of these problems and is trying to exclude union officials from negotiations. In fact, there’s even talk of Lufthansa dissolving the union’s involvement in pay and conditions negotiations, arguing that it is unfair that a new agreement is being delayed while internal issues at the union are resolved.
Union officials plan to draw up their demands in the coming days and then put them to a ballot. The ballot will also include a strike vote – if authorised, a strike could happen as early as July.
Lufthansa has apparently been reluctant to negotiate with the UFO on a collective bargaining agreement for quite some months. The current agreement will expire at the end of June and the two sides are far apart on a number of issues. Many cabin crew are particularly unhappy with cost-cutting initiatives imposed by Lufthansa in recent months, including a decision to reduce the length of layover on ultra-long-haul flights to Asia.