The chief executive of Lufthansa has personally waded into an increasingly bitter dispute between cabin crew and the German flag-carrier in a last-ditch attempt to avert a 48-hour strike scheduled to start at midnight on Thursday 7th November. Carsten Spohr sent a letter to the UFO union yesterday afternoon requesting a meeting with cabin crew representatives but also asked officials from the Ver.di and CU cabin crew union to attend the meeting as well.
Describing the current situation as “extremely regrettable”, Spohr said the planned walkout was “neither reasonable for our employees nor for our customers”. But while Lufthansa’s chief exec says that a “solution can only be in dialogue”, his decision to invite rival union officials will likely incense the UFO union.
And while Spohr is now calling for dialogue, Lufthansa has so far refused to negotiate with the UFO, claiming the union does not have the right to represent Lufthansa’s cabin crew. That decision stems from a nasty internal dispute at the union with allegations of fraud, nepotism and unethical working practices rocking the organisation.
Lufthansa applied for an interim injunction yesterday to stop the strike from going ahead but the Frankfurt labour court rejected the airline’s application on Wednesday morning.
The airline released an emergency timetable this afternoon, with current plans to cancel 700 of 3,000 planned flights. Lufthansa currently estimates that 180,000 passengers will be affected by the strikes on Thursday and Friday.
Customers are being given the option of changing their flights free of charge or even choosing to swap out their tickets for train passes instead.
With over 85 per cent of Lufthansa cabin crew who took part in the strike ballot voting in favour of downing tools, it’s expected that tomorrow’s strike action would lead to significant disruption and hundreds of flight cancellations. A near all-day strike involving cabin crew from four Lufthansa subsidiaries resulted in 200 flight cancellations despite the walkout being called at the last minute.
The meeting between Spohr and the unions is scheduled to take place at 6pm tonight and has been described as a “top-level discussion” which will aim to find “solutions for the employees and the passengers of the Lufthansa Group”.