- Flight attendants at Lufthansa could announce strike action on Friday
- Peace talks have faltered following “procrastination” from management
- Lufthansa cancelled 1,300 flight during a 48-hour walkout in November
- Strikes could potentially happen in the run-up to Christmas
Peace talks between German flag carrier Lufthansa and the UFO flight attendants union have broken down just over a month after the two sides brokered a ceasefire in what had turned into an increasingly ugly dispute over pay and conditions. The flight attendants union is now threatening further strike action, with the possibility that new dates could be announced as early as this Friday.
Lufthansa was forced to cancel over 1,300 flights, disrupting the travel plans of around 180,000 passengers when its flight attendants staged a 48-hour walkout on the 7th and 8th November. The stoppage was initially hailed as a success by the union when Lufthansa suddenly agreed to restart negotiations over pay and conditions.
For months, Lufthansa had refused to accept the right of the union to represent its flight attendants and had even started a legal challenge in an attempt to strip the UFO of bargaining rights. Under the terms of the ceasefire, the airline and union agreed to arbitration with independent mediators.
As part of the deal, Lufthansa accepted the UFO was a legitimate union and withdrew its controversial court action.
“Arbitration is the right way to address the pressing concerns of our employees in the cabin with all parties involved and to restore trust. It is good news for our customers that now there will be no more strikes at Lufthansa,” explained Dr Bettina Volkens, Lufthansa’s head of human resources at the time.
But it doesn’t look like arbitration has been working out quite how union officials had hoped. They’ve complained of “procrastination” on the part of the airline management and now claim there is “little hope” of Lufthansa agreeing to its demands.
More arbitration is said to be taking place today but unless there’s a major breakthrough, further strike action will likely be announced on Friday. Under the terms of the ceasefire, the union agreed not to stage another walkout until the 2nd February 2020 at the earliest.
Or perhaps flight attendants could down tools even sooner? The union has now raised new demands which are not covered by the deal and that means they would be free to stage a strike at any time… this could include in the run-up to Christmas or over the New Year.
The new demands include a €1,500 one-off special payment for all employees, as well as the restoration of two-night layovers for certain ultra-long-haul trips to South Korea and Japan. In addition, the UFO wants a rock-solid guarantee that flight attendants won’t be disciplined for taking industrial action.
Lufthansa is yet to comment on this latest development. The airline had attempted to block November’s 48-hour stoppage but a court refused Lufthansa’s application for an emergency injunction.