Lufthansa cabin crew union threat­ens fur­ther strikes

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

FRANK­FURT: Lufthansa’s main cabin crew union threat­ened fur­ther in­dus­trial ac­tion yes­ter­day as work­ers protested at Frank­furt air­port at the end of a week-long strike which grounded nearly all of the main air­line’s flights. “This strike will end tonight, but if man­age­ment doesn’t change, then strikes will be pos­si­ble again at any time,” Ni­co­ley Baublies, head of the union, told staff. Re­la­tions be­tween the two sides have be­come in­creas­ingly bit­ter in the ne­go­ti­a­tions over early re­tire­ment ben­e­fits and pen­sions, which have dragged on for two years.

A big stick­ing point in the ne­go­ti­a­tions is that Lufthansa wants to in­tro­duce a cheaper early re­tire­ment and pen­sion scheme for new employees, while the union wants the same deal for both cur­rent and fu­ture staff. Since they started strike ac­tion last Fri­day the union has forced the can­cel­la­tion of about 4,700 Lufthansa flights, dis­rupt­ing the travel plans of 550,000 pas­sen­gers. Other group air­lines such as Swiss, Aus­trian and Ger­man­wings were not af­fected.

“What we’ve seen is that no mat­ter what you do, you just can’t reach a res­o­lu­tion with this man­age­ment,” Baublies said. His com­ments were echoed by Ilja Schulz, head of the pi­lots’ union that has staged over a dozen strikes in 18 months. Lufthansa’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and head of per­son­nel vis­ited the demonstration in front of the air­line’s head­quar­ters at the air­port, join­ing Baublies on a small stage to speak to the sev­eral hun­dred work­ers wav­ing ban­ners, blow­ing whis­tles and chant­ing “We are Lufthansa”. Lufthansa says struc­tural cost cuts are nec­es­sary for it to com­pete in the long term with fast-grow­ing bud­get car­ri­ers in Europe and leaner Gulf ri­vals in its all-im­por­tant long-haul mar­kets.

“For us it is clear, the enemy is with­out, not within. We want to find so­lu­tions, and we will find them, but we should make Lufthansa strong to­gether,” per­son­nel head Bet­tina Volkens said.

How­ever, Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Si­mone Menne gave no in­di­ca­tion that there was room for com­pro­mise. “What we have of­fered is what we can af­ford,” she told the gath­er­ing. She also said that the strikes would not lead to the air­line chang­ing its profit forecast for this year. Last month Lufthansa said it ex­pected to re­port record prof­its in 2015, boosted by lower fuel costs and strong de­mand, but Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Carsten Spohr has said its costs are con­tin­u­ing to rise and need to be cut now as com­pe­ti­tion in­ten­si­fies.

The com­pany said Spohr could not ad­dress the pro­tes­tors on Fri­day, as he was away in France at an event to thank vol­un­teers who had helped in the af­ter­math of the Ger­man­wings crash in March. — Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.