Bloomberg News

Lufthansa Strike Escalates as Union Outlines One-Day Halt

April 19, 2013

Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA), Europe’s second-largest airline, faces further disruption to services next week after unions called for a day-long strike to add pressure to demands for more pay.

Lufthansa’s main Frankfurt and Munich airports will be hit by strikes on Monday, as will sites in Berlin and Dusseldorf and the Cologne hub for its Germanwings low-cost operations, the Ver.di union said in a statement today. Most locations will see participating workers walk out for the full day, a step up from the March 21 action that had been limited to half a day.

The protests come as Lufthansa tries to lower costs and increase revenue to lift operating profit to a record 2.3 billion euros ($3 billion) by 2015. That includes cutting about 3,500 jobs.

“The employers have refused to make a clear statement on job security, effectively playing with the employees’ fears related to their future,” Christine Behle, who leads the negotiations for Ver.di, said in the statement. Behle will join Lufthansa’s supervisory board after the company’s shareholder meeting on May 7.

Lufthansa shares were down 0.75 percent at 13.88 euros by 4:18 p.m. in Frankfurt, extending its losing streak to three days. The stock is down 2.5 percent this year.

Completely Excessive

Ver.di says 33,000 Lufthansa employees are covered by the negotiations, including cabin crews, ground workers, maintenance, freight and catering staff. The company had 116,957 employees worldwide as of Dec. 31, according to its annual report. The walkout on March 21 forced Lufthansa to cancel more than 760 flights, most of its continental services that day.

“A 24-hour strike is completely excessive given there is progress in the negotiations,” Lufthansa board member Stefan Lauer said in a statement. The airline made a wage offer this week and more dates for talks have already been set, he said.

While services within Europe will suffer from cancellations, Lufthansa said it will try to operate intercontinental flights wherever possible. Flights operated by Germanwings won’t be affected and will operate as normal, Lufthansa said.

“We will develop an alternative flight schedule now and post updates on our homepage,” Lufthansa spokesman Thomas Jachnow said by phone. The airline will post a list of canceled flights on its website by the evening of April 20.

Trains Available

Strikes by cabin crews on three days in August and September last year cost the company 33 million euros, Lufthansa has said, with both parties eventually accepting a deal suggested by a mediator for a 4.6 percent pay rise. Workers are now demanding an increase of 5.2 percent, with a fourth round of talks scheduled for April 29 and 30.

Germany’s rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG said it will run all available trains that day, and Lufthansa customers traveling within Germany can exchange tickets for canceled flights or missed connections with vouchers for rail travel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net


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