The union that claims to represent flight attendants at German flag carrier Lufthansa has announced a five-hour strike which is set to take place on the 20th October at the airline’s hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. The Indepedent Flight Attendants Association (UFO) will be urging its members to down tools between 6am to 11am on Sunday in a long running and increasingly bitter dispute over protracted contract negotiations and union representation.
Lufthansa has not yet publicly commented on the strike action but the airline has previously tried to shut the union down, arguing it does not have the mandate to represent the airline’s flight attendants or the power to call a strike. The airline has taken the union to court on several occasions but a recent case seemed to clear the way for the UFO’s call for industrial action.
“At this time we call all flight attendants and pursers at Lufthansa not to appear at work. Where there will be more work stoppages, now depends solely on whether Lufthansa returns to the negotiating table,” the UFO said in a statement translated from German.
“Lufthansa has already informed UFO that no emergency flight plan will be prepared for customers,” the union claimed.
“The company seems to be speculating on finding enough strikebreakers willing to give up their right to strike,” the statement continued.
Lufthansa has refused to negotiate with the UFO for some time over serious allegations of corruption and nepotism at the top of the union. Continuing allegations concerning the leadership of the UFO has cast doubt on the union’s mandate to represent Lufthansa’s flight attendants although a police investigation was concluded without any action taken.
A collective bargaining agreement lapsed in June and no progress has been made since as several court cases filed by the airline against the union continue.
The UFO would like to see an immediate 1.8 per cent pay rise, along with a number of improvements to working conditions which would turn back recent cost-cutting moves by Lufthansa – such as reducing the amount of rest flight attendants enjoy on ultra-long-haul trips to Asia.
“Lufthansa is willing to accept that the damage to passengers is as great as possible so that the public blames UFO for possible chaos,” the UFO’s Deputy Chairman Daniel Flohr claimed.
“If Mr Spohr (the chief executive of the Lufthansa group) believes that the strikes are illegal, then he must go to court to prove so.” he continued.
The union warned that further strike dates would be announced if Lufthansa refused to engage in negotiations.