Germany’s Independent Flight Attendants Organisation (UFO) says flight attendants from five Lufthansa group airlines including its mainline namesake brand and low-cost operators Eurowings and Germanwings have overwhelmingly backed further strike action – dates are set to be announced on Monday afternoon and action could begin with little notice.
The call for strike action covers flight attendants at Lufthansa, Eurowings and Germanwings, as well as Sunexpress Germany and Lufthansa CityLine. Flight attendants at the latter four airlines have already staged one walkout on the 20th October which is estimated to have led to around 200 flight cancellations.
Leading up to the walkout, Lufthansa is alleged to have threatened staffers with disciplinary action and even the threat of being sacked if they took part in the stoppage. According to the union, the airline attempted to call in reserves in what turned out to be a failed attempt to break the strike.
The union had initially called for mainline flight attendants to join the four-hour-long October stoppage but rowed back on this threat after Lufthansa offered a voluntary and immediate pay rise. But when airline execs refused to extend that offer to colleagues at its subsidiaries like CityLine, the union extended the strike to 12-hour long downing of tools at the last minute.
While that strike was called without a formal ballot, the union has now concluded a vote of its members to back more walkouts.
By far the highest vote in favour of strike action came from flight attendants at Sunexpress who voted 96 per cent in favour. Flight attendants at the Lufthansa mainline brand backed further action by 87 per cent. Meanwhile, Germanwings came in at 95 per cent, Eurowings at 82 per cent and CityLine at 77 per cent.
Members of all five airlines also voted overwhelmingly to keep the current management board of the union. Lufthansa has refused to recognise the UFO, claiming the union is badly run and that its current board members don’t have the legitimate right to negotiate on behalf of flight attendants.
Lufthansa has started legal proceedings to try and get a court to agree with its argument and instead get an alternative union to replace the UFO. The airline is yet to comment on the results of the ballot.
The UFO is expected to announce its next steps at 2pm on Monday afternoon.