Lufthansa has failed to reach an agreement with unions over proposed job cuts and sweeping changes to terms and conditions ahead of a make or break Annual General Meeting on Thursday. The German flag carrier had set itself a deadline of June 22 to hammer out a deal with unions but late on Monday, the airline confirmed that talks were still continuing. One major union said it would not hold more talks until Friday at the earliest.
Last week, Lufthansa executive board member Dr Michael Niggemann revealed plans to slash as many as 22,000 jobs in a major cost-cutting move to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Job cuts or at least massive reductions in staff costs are seen as crucial for Lufthansa to gain shareholder approval for a multi-billion Euro government bailout.
Shareholders will get their opportunity to vote on the €9 billion taxpayer-funded package on Thursday at Lufthansa’s annual general meeting. The airline has urged as many shareholders as possible to attend the event (virtually) in order to cast their vote, fearing that the package might fall at the last hurdle.
Billionaire shareholder Heinz-Hermann Thiele, who has acquired a roughly 15 per cent stake in the airline, is unimpressed with the government bailout and has suggested he might attempt to vote down the package. A low turnout at a shareholders meeting last month has made Lufthansa jittery fearing that Thiele might get his way.
The need to push the bailout through is possibly the only thing that Lufthansa and its unions can currently agree on. The UFO cabin crew union, who are normally at permanent loggerheads with Lufthansa, has even been given permission by the airline to hold a demonstration outside the Lufthansa Aviation Center on Thursday.
Union members will be encouraged to wear their uniforms as they try to convince shareholders to vote for the bailout package. Agreement on staff cuts, however, remains less certain. Earlier this week, the union denied reports that its leader had demanded a personal €1 million payment to approve Lufthansa’s proposals.
Meanwhile, the Verdi union says it isn’t willing to take part in any talks until Friday – a day after the crucial vote. If the bailout is approved, the union will likely demand the absolute minimum of job cuts.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.