Bloomberg News

Lufthansa Attendants to Resume Strike Tuesday, Union Says

September 02, 2012

Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) flight attendants will stop work Sept. 4, expanding the length and locations of an eight-hour walkout Aug. 31 over a 13-month wage dispute at Europe’s second-biggest airline.

Details of the cabin crew’s actions will be provided at least six hours in advance of the strike, the Unabhaengige Flugbegleiter Organisation union said in an e-mailed statement today. The UFO, which says it represents about 19,400 flight attendants in the contract talks, didn’t say how many flight attendants would go on strike.

“Since Lufthansa provided no signal to the UFO after the strike at Frankfurt airport, the labor dispute continues,” the union said in its statement.

Lufthansa canceled at least 207 flights Aug. 31, primarily within Europe, as well as services to and from some U.S. cities, Tel Aviv and Chennai, India, according to Lufthansa’s website.

The dispute centers on pay increases and whether separate wage scales apply to some groups of flight attendants as Cologne, Germany-based Lufthansa implements a 1.5 billion-euro ($1.9 billion) savings program dubbed Score.

The company has already announced plans to scrap as many as 4,500 jobs in administration and catering to reduce its 120,000- employee global workforce. Contract talks between UFO and Lufthansa collapsed on Aug. 28. The union has outlined plans for short-term strikes initially, with unlimited walkouts possible later.

Extended Walkout

Extending the walkout across Germany would set Lufthansa back 12 million euros a day, Peter Oppitzhauser, a Zurich-based Credit Agricole analyst, has estimated. That would amount to 2 percent of full-year analysts’ consensus predictions for operating profit, according to Oppitzhauser.

UFO wants a 5 percent raise on a one-year contract backdated to April 1, and contends that Lufthansa’s most recent pay proposal amounts to a 1.5 percent annual increase that would erode wages by 1,300 euros a month after inflation. Lufthansa said on Aug. 28 that its raise totals 3.5 percent over time, and all flight attendants would get higher pay.

The union also opposes Lufthansa’s demand that flight attendants assigned to Berlin, where the airline is expanding, work 9 percent more hours than employees elsewhere for the same wages, and has objected to the use of temporary workers there. In addition, the parties have been unable to agree on whether to protect employees after 2013 from being transferred to low-cost divisions under cheaper pay contracts, according to UFO.

Frankfurt was Europe’s third-busiest airport in the 12 months through May, trailing only London and Paris, according to trade group Airports Council International. Among carriers in the region, Lufthansa ranks second to Paris-based Air France-KLM Group (AF) in terms of traffic, or the number of passengers multiplied by the distance flown.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Webb in Frankfurt at awebb25@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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